Mokwena was initially selected to join the squad’s camp as they prepare to play Angola on Thursday and either Zambia or Zimbabwe on Sunday, with the aim of learning and giving input alongside Baxter’s technical team.
“I just want to clear the situation regarding Rulani, the coach we wanted to invite to the camp. As everybody knows, this tournament has compromised in terms of time and preparations,” said Baxter yesterday.
“The warning-time for us to know that we are taking part was very short. And that has made the lines of communications also a little bit short, protocol wasn’t followed 100%. At this moment Rulani won’t be taking part in our camp, we understand the situation with Pirates. We just wanted to let everybody know the intention was to bring the coach into the camp and give him experience, and that was a very positive gesture.”
The timing of Mokwena’s call-up to the national team was questioned last week by Bucs head coach Micho Sredojevic, after the Buccaneers were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup by Cape Town City. Pirates are currently locked in an intense battle for the Absa Premiership title with Mamelodi Sundowns.
Baxter added that even the squad’s preparation for the competition is very short, but they are looking forward to the tournament and he wants to give every player a run, especially youngsters like Teboho Mokoena, Reeve Frosler and Motjeka Madisha.
“We only had one session which was today (yesterday). I hope the energy coming in from the youngsters mixing with the experienced players will give us a decent fighting unit.”
Kaizer Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele, meanwhile, is one of the more experienced players in the squad and says the senior players have a huge role to play in terms of guiding the youngsters.
“It is our responsibility as a team to make sure we do well following the setback of not qualifying for the World Cup. We don’t want the youngsters to come here and find us with our heads down, we have to lead by example,” said Mphahlele.