Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has expressed disappointment at not being able to consider Mamelodi Sundowns defender Rivaldo Coetzee for Afcon selection, after the player had asked to be excused from the national team’s training camp.
The player was named in the 30-man preliminary squad for the tournament which assembled at Steyn City in Johannesburg earlier in the week.
According to Baxter, he requested to be allowed to tend to his critically ill mother, and is yet to rejoin the squad.
“Rivaldo called me on the day we assembled and said that his mother was critically ill‚ he didn’t think that she would make it through the night and asked if he could go‚” Baxter explained.
“I said‚ ‘of course you can go. But be careful‚ you’re going to miss training.’
“I said‚ ‘How much have you been doing?’ He said‚ ‘Nothing’. I said‚ ‘Okay‚ well that’s going to be a challenge’.
“We gave him permission to go to his mother. And then‚ we heard nothing for three days. The doctor (Thulani Ngwenya) has tried to contact him‚ we’ve heard nothing. And now‚ all we can tell you is he’s in the Northern Cape somewhere‚ that makes him unselectable.”
A disappointed Baxter said he was careful not to come down hard on the player, as the matter is a delicate one.
“All I’m saying is that he’s not got back to us, and that’s disappointing. He’s not got back to us and shown the desire – even though there’s personal issues – to get into the squad.
In his first full season back since a long-term injury denied him a move to Scottish giants Celtic, Coetzee made a total of 18 appearances across competitions for Sundowns.
Baxter said he “went on a limb” to select the player, despite limited game time.
“The fact that he’s not shown that desire to let us know what the situation is makes him unselectable, and that’s disappointing.”
Baxter will trim the squad to 23 players, with the announcement made on Sunday.
Bafana begin their Afcon campaign against Ivory Coast in Cairo on Monday, 24 June.