Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki says he resisted the temptation to select in-form Swallows FC defender Njabulo Ngcobo as a way to protect him for the future.
The 26-year-old centre-back has been excellent for an impressive Dube Birds this season, playing 18 games in all competitions and even contributing with a goal.
Ntseki named a 26-man squad to take on Ghana and Sudan in upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, but Ngcobo did not make the cut despite calls for his inclusion.
Swallows have the second-best defensive record in the DStv Premiership this season with only 12 goals conceded in 17 league matches, while Sundowns have conceded seven in 16 games.
Ntseki said: "We have also looked into Ngcobo but if you look at the centre-back it is a very crucial and difficult position that you can just bring anybody in like we did with Rushine De Reuck in the last campa.
“These are the type of players that we will be bringing in overtime because a centre-back is a position that needs a lot of brains, lots of experience because any mistake you make at that level is a goal.
"Let me make an example of Ngcobo playing against Jordan Ayew, (Crystal Palace forward), the intelligence of such a player, the experience and you have to play him against Ngcobo. You have to protect your players, give them time to develop into quality Bafana Bafana players."