BAFANA Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has handed over the captain armband to hard tackling defender, Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Addressing a media briefing on Monday afternoon, the Bafana Bafana mentor said the BidVest Wits captain was a natural leader and had all the qualities he needed in a captain.
“He has all the qualities of a leader,” said Baxter. “He has played at the highest level and has gained great experience playing both for his club in the Premier Soccer League and has gained a lot of experience playing on the continent and he truly fits the bill.”
“He is one player who leads by example and I have always liked the captain to normally be centre backs because they can drive the whole team. But in all honesty, he is a massive player and leader and is a captain material,” added Baxter.
The Bafana Bafana coach said he would like the captain armband to be something to be relished and respected and therefore wouldn’t like to change it a lot among players.
He added though he would look at other players to be group leaders; players such as Itumeleng Khune and Dean Furman. “But I am not a big fan of rotating the captain armband.”
Baxter also named his interim Technical team comprising of goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia, Thabo Senong and Molefi Ntseki. The fitness trainer is Kabelo ‘KB’ Rangoaga.
Meanwhile, Baxter said despite some players carrying an assortment of niggling injuries, the team would go to Nigeria to perform and not add up the numbers.
“We need a positive result in Nigeria and we have capabilities to hurt them. When we get there, we should be ready. There is no perfect world but I have positive belief,’ said Baxter.
Among the players battling with injuries are Lebogang Manyama (knee injury), Andile Jali (groin), Tokelo Rantie (swollen toe), Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Ngoma (groin), Rivaldo Coetzee (hamstring) and Eric Mathoho who had a concussion.
“I would have loved to have a full fit squad ahead of travelling to Nigeria but you don’t get a perfect situation in football. But there are no excuses and we are raring to go,’ said Baxter adding that going forward one thing the country has to pay attention to is thorough preparations and attention to detail.
He said he was happy with the players in camp and those who came in as replacements had an opportunity to put up their hands and be counted. “Those called up are true professionals and should raise their hands.”
Baxter said it was imperative for all stakeholders to be on the same page when it comes to national team. This includes clubs, the Association and coaches.
Baxter said they would have done with an early camp but couldn’t get it because of a number of issues but added the team must maximise the situation presented to them.
The coach said he had received lots of information about his opponents adding that the West Africans are strong going forward and solid at the back.
“But we are going to be a big nuisance to them; we want to be a nightmare they don’t want. I respect Nigeria but we are not going there to make up the numbers.”