Stuart Baxter: Why Kermit Erasmus didn't make final Bafana Bafana Afcon squad

The Bafana mentor has explained his decision-making, after confirming his final squad for the 2019 Afcon tournament

Be proud and don’t be disheartened.

This was the message to the three Bafana Bafana players who missed out on an opportunity to represent their country at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt when Stuart Baxter announced his 23-man squad.

Kermit Erasmus, Fortune Makaringe and Ben Motshwari were the unfortunate players who missed out on selection despite being part of the preliminary squad, but Bafana head coach Baxter has encouraged them to keep their head held high.

“I told the players when we selected the squad of 27 players (including Coetzee) that whether or not they are at the Afcon, I hope they see it as a massive boost to their careers,” Baxter was quoted as saying by Phakaaathi.

Meanwhile, Baxter admitted that the choice to leave out Erasmus was certainly not an easy one.

The Cape Town City attacker has enjoyed a new lease on life since returning to South Africa, earning a recall to the national team fold.

“I told Kermit that I think he just really got his career back on track at Cape Town City, and I wanted to tell him he is doing well by inviting him to the squad,” Baxter explained.

The likes of Lars Veldwijk, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Lebo Mothiba and Percy Tau have been preferred ahead of the 28-year-old.

“Until the last day he has been in with a good chance, I just think I have cover in those positions, and I had to pick players who can cover at centreback. That tilted the scales a bit,” he said.

“I hope he sees it like that, and with the other two lads (Motshwari and Makaringe) it is the same. We have more experienced midfield players, I hope they see it as a step forward in their careers."

South Africa have been drawn in Group D at the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on June 21 in Egypt.

Bafana will begin their Afcon campaign against Ivory Coast in Cairo, before meeting Namibia and Morocco as they look to reach the knockout stages.