- Forster has just returned to the Burnley team
- He had been sidelined with mental health issues
- South Africa hope for a last 16 appearance at the AFCON
Burnley FC forward Lyle Forster has been omitted as South Africa head coach Hugo Broos has named his final squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations set for January in Ivory Coast. The on-form Burnley man is the biggest name missing from the list. He scored in Saturday’s defeat at Aston Villa.
Forster has just returned to first team action with his English Premier League club, having missed some games over what was termed as a mental health issue, and possibly the reason he has not been included in the South African squad that heads to Ivory Coast.
But, coach Broos has named a strong side, headlined by Al Ahly’s Percy Tau, who was earlier this month named as the Inter Club player of the year at the CAF Awards.
Broos selected 23 players and put another three on standby, saying this is the personnel that will do battle in the West African country against the continent’s best national teams.
The South African team will assemble for camp on 4 January 2024 and then travel to Stellenbosch for a training camp that will be held in the Western Cape city until 9 January.
Bafana Bafana will then play a training match against Lesotho behind closed doors at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville before departing for Côte d’Ivoire on 11 January.
South Africa are in Pool E alongside fellow Southern African rivals Namibia, Mali and Tunisia. They kick off their campaign against Mali on January 16.
Target last 16 at AFCON
Meanwhile, the tactician says the team’s initial target at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast in January will be to qualify for the last 16.
Bafana Bafana, winners of the title in 1996 when they hosted it, have not gone past the quarter finals since 200 when they finished in third place.
They reached the last eight in Egypt in 2019, and failed to qualify for the last edition in Cameroon in 2021. This time though, Broos is keen to ensure the team does well and even goes further than the last eight.
“If we do not go past the group stages, we will not be happy, and that is for sure,” the Bafana Bafana coach said.
He added; “I think that has to be the first goal. You know, going past the group stages is one of the most difficult things to do in the tournament. It is like that because you are playing against three opponents that are 100 percent motivated, and they also want to go past those group stage.”
South Africa have been drawn against Namibia, Mali and Tunisia in Group E and will need to finish in the top two to assure themselves of a last 16 berth, while a third place finish might sneak them through.
South Africa’s AFCON 2023 squad:
Goalkeepers: Ricardo Goss (SuperSport Utd), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Ronwen Williams (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: Grant Kekana, Terrence Mashego, Aubrey Modiba, Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala (Sundowns), Sydney Mobbie (Sekhukhune Utd), Nkosinathi Sibisi (Orlando Pirates), Siyanda Xulu (SuperSport).
Midfielders: Thapelo Maseko, Teboho Mokoena, Thapelo Morena (Sundowns), Jayden Adams (Stellenbosch), Thabang Monare (Pirates), Sphephelo Sithole (Tondela/POR).
Forwards: Zakhele Lepasa, Evidence Makgopa (Pirates), Oswin Appollis (Polokwane City), Mihlali Mayambela (Aris Limassol/CYP), Percy Tau (Al Ahly/EGY), Themba Zwane (Sundowns).