South Africa include former Croatia, Switzerland defenders in provisional AFCON squad

AFP , Tuesday 21 May 2019,
Soccer Football - Serie A - Empoli v Inter Milan - Stadio Carlo Castellani, Empoli, Italy - December 29, 2018 Inter Milan's Keita Balde shoots at goal under pressure from Empoli's Joel Untersee REUTERS

South Africa have included defenders who have played for Croatia and Switzerland at age-limit levels in a provisional 30-man squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) in Egypt.

Centre-back Nikola Tavares, 20, who is on the books of Crystal Palace, was born in Cape Town to Croatian parents.

Right-back Joel Untersee, 25, on loan to FC Zurich from Empoli, left Johannesburg as a child with his Swiss parents.

Both are eligible to play for South Africa because they have not represented their adopted countries in a senior competitive match.

Coach Stuart Baxter said Tuesday that the pair will be considered for the final 23-man squad provided they obtain South African passports.

Including Tavares and Untersee, there are nine Europe-based professionals, three of whom are with French Ligue 1 clubs.

South Africa are in Group D for the June 21/July 19 tournament with fellow former champions the Ivory Coast and Morocco, and outsiders Namibia.

The group appears the toughest of the six with only the countries finishing first and second guaranteed places in the second round.

Bafana Bafana (The Boys) face the Ivorian Elephants on June 24, the Namibian Brave Warriors four days later and the Moroccan Atlas Lions on July 1.

The squad will prepare in Dubai for the biennial African football showcase, which features 24 teams for the first time.

Provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Rowen Williams (SuperSport Utd)

Defenders: Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo (capt), Buhle Mkhwanazi (all Wits), Daniel Cardoso, Ramahlwe Mphahlele (both Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City), Nikola Tavares (Crystal Palace/ENG), Joel Untersee (FC Zurich/SUI)

Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Themba Zwane (all Sundowns), Thembinkosi Lorch, Ben Motshwari (both Pirates), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier/FRA), Dean Furman (SuperSport), Fortune Makaringe (Maritzburg Utd), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford/ENG), Thulani Serero (Vitesse Arnhem/NED), Bongani Zungu (Amiens/FRA)

Forwards: Lebogang Maboe, Sibusiso Vilakazi (both Sundowns), Kermit Erasmus (Cape Town), Lebo Mothiba (Racing Strasbourg/FRA), Percy Tau (Royal Union St Gilloise/BEL), Lars Veldwijk (Sparta Rotterdam/NED)

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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