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Rivaldo Coetzee likely to be dropped from Bafana Bafana AFCON squad for going AWOL

Rivaldo Coetzee likely to be dropped from Bafana Bafana AFCON squad for going AWOL

Rivaldo Coetzee is likely to be dropped from the Bafana Bafana squad ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) because of his failure to keep management informed of his whereabouts, after he was given leave to visit his sick mother.

Coetzee was named by coach Stuart Baxter in the interim squad for the 2019 Afcon in Egypt, which kicks off in two weeks’ time.

But he was then excused from the training camp in Johannesburg in order to be with his mother, who was said to be “critically ill”.

The issue, however, is that since returning home, Coetzee has failed to make any contact with the national team, which has seemingly left Baxter with little choice but to cut him from the squad.

“We gave him permission to go to his mother,” Baxter said. “And then‚ we heard nothing for three days. All we can tell you is he’s in the Northern Cape somewhere‚ that makes him unselectable.

“If you want to play for your national team, then we’re guessing that you’re at least in touch with your coach, saying that‚ ‘Look‚ I’m coming. Don’t worry about me‚ I’m training’.

“I’m not going to go out and slaughter him, because I don’t know the situation there. All I’m saying is that he’s not got back to us, and that’s disappointing.”

Coetzee has only just returned to the national team squad after a long-term foot injury kept him sidelined for the whole of the 2017/18 season.

He began making tentative steps back into the action with Mamelodi Sundowns in the latter stages of last season.

Indeed, there were question marks as to whether the 22-year-old was ready for the rigours of international action, with Baxter admitting he had taken a bit of a gamble on the former Ajax Cape Town star.

“I went out on a limb a little bit selecting Rivaldo, despite his lack of playing time, because I think he’s a bit of the future.”

If Coetzee is indeed left at home, South Africa have just three natural central defenders in their squad: Daniel Cardoso of Kaizer Chiefs and Wits pair Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi.

Cape Town-born Nikolas Tavares, currently at Crystal Palace in England, is also a centre-back, but his participation has not been confirmed yet due to a delay on his passport.

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Attacking midfielder Keagan Dolly was also forced to withdraw from the squad last week due to a hamstring injury.

Baxter has other problems to deal with too in that he has been struggling to arrange a friendly game for this weekend before announcing the final 23-man Afcon squad on Sunday.

“We will have an internal game on Saturday if we do not get an opposition. If we do get an opponent, then everybody will play 45 minutes, and then I will make my decision based on that.

“We are trying to get someone to come over from the Cosafa tournament, but it’s looking to be forlorn.”

South Africa take on Ivory Coast in their opening Afcon game, set for June 24. Also in their group are Morocco and Namibia.

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