South Africa head coach Stuart Baxter has confirmed that Thulani Hlatshwayo will wear the Bafana Bafana captain’s armband on a permanent basis.
After the South African Football Association (SAFA) announced Baxter as the country’s new coach, one of the first questions was ‘who will lead the national side?’.
In his two years with Bafana Bafana, former head coach Shakes Mashaba rotated the captaincy which saw several players lead the side.
“Hlatshwayo will captain Bafana Bafana,” said Baxter at a press conference, as quoted by the official Bafana Bafana Twitter account.
“I obviously see him [Hlatshwayo] as being a good captain, that’s the reason I picked him. I could have thought, ‘well who’s least likely to be a captain,’” joked Baxter.
“I think he’s got all the qualities you want from your captain. He’s playing regularly and starring for his club; he’s a strong character within that club’s dressing room; he has experience at the national team and continental football as a whole.
“I think he both leads by example and he’s a centre-back, which I also like because I was a centre-back, so I’m probably being a little bit pompous about that. But I like centre-backs, they are in the thick of things and usually driving forces.
“I don’t think there’s anything I could level against ‘Tyson’ to say that this is not captain material.”
Baxter also confirmed that he would not be rotating captains, thus making Hlatshwayo a permanent feature in his line-ups going forward, though he revealed a policy of split-captaincy duties off the field.
“There won’t be rotating of captains but we will probably have a captain, a vice-captain and then there’s also a case for – and this is something I’ll discuss with the players – a team captain and a group captain,” he announced.
“I mean [Kaizer Chiefs midfielder] Willard Katsande is probably paying the price for being that sort of group captain now, when he got shoved in front of the Zimbabwe selectors and board, asking for all sorts of stuff and end up getting suspended.
“But I think there is a case… I mean a group captain: someone who likes to talk and doesn’t mind the negotiations with people – I’m not sure that Tyson fancies that too much, but I’m sure Itu [Itumeleng Khune] is more experienced in that field – and doesn’t find it an imposition. Someone like Dean Furman.
“I think there’s a case for that. We’ll consider it but at the moment Tyson is the captain and I’ve got no intention of rotating it around because I think the captain’s armband should be valued. I think it should be something you strive for, and we tarnish it a little bit by giving it to 16 different players in one season.”
Hlatshwayo will lead South Africa against Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Saturday, June 10.