Bafana host the Mediterranean Knights at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon (15h00), and will be expected to build on their 2-0 opening defeat of Nigeria.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s approach may vary, depending on what he has analysed of Libya’s recent encounters, but, with home ground advantage, there is perhaps more need to strike a good balance between attack and defence.
This might come as a surprise to many, but it could help to have Keet start ahead of regular first-choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune this weekend, looking purely at current form. The Bidvest Wits shot-stopper is the second most experienced gloveman at Bafana level in recent years after all, and depending on the possible defensive line in front of him could be more apt at conducting them.
‘Tyson’ is the current Bafana captain, so it would be safe to assume he’ll be starting in central defence on Saturday. The Wits skipper has also been a regular feature for the national side under Baxter. Like Keet, his club form has seen them concede just two goals in their five matches this season.
He might lack experience, but pairing Mkhwanazi alongside his customary partner in central defence would perhaps make up for it. Baxter has also long since been an admirer of the towering defender, who has shown good form for Wits in the early stages of the new season.
Another Bafana regular over the last 12+ months, Hlanti would fit like a hand to a glove alongside his Wits colleagues in central defence, and has shown some consistency since his arrival at the Milpark-based outfit in early 2016. Innocent Maela is his competition, but he has not had the greatest of starts to the season with Orlando Pirates.
With no real competition at his position in the current camp, Mphahlele is perhaps certain to start. Baxter roped in Siphesihle Ndlovu as a utility player for the right-back position, after he impressed during the COSAFA Cup, while Hlatshwayo is the only other candidate accustomed to the demands at that corner of the pitch.
Furman has been one of the most consistent midfielders in the Bafana setup in the last several years, and his work ethic and leadership on the pitch is almost sure to get him the nod. The SuperSport United workhorse is adept at breaking down attacking threats in the heart of midfield with his robust approach, and serves as a defensive reinforcement in the centre of the park.
The England-based midfielder has continued his growth with Championship side Brentford and recently donned the captain’s armband. Having often been a reserve to Bongani Zungu and Furman, the former junior international star could now again prove his worth in the absence of the France-based star – this time alongside someone who knows both the South African and English game.
‘Vila’ started the season well with Mamelodi Sundowns – netting three goals in their first five games in all competitions, and has shown to be very effective in that ‘false-nine’ position. He is also no stranger to that role for Bafana, having started four of the last five internationals in behind Percy Tau.
Though he has struggled to command a regular place at French side Montpellier, Dolly has proven his attacking threat at the national team – his two assists in his last two Bafana appearances attests to this. The former Mamelodi Sundowns winger has also developed a good understanding with most of the regulars under Baxter.
The poster boy of South African football at present, Tau’s recent move to English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion illustrates his ability and potential. The reigning PSL Footballer of the Season may be in an obscure Belgian league at present, but his quality can still be a major asset to Bafana. His skill of cutting inside from the flank at Sundowns tormented many a defender in the Absa Premiership and CAF Champions League.
Grobler is undoubtedly the form striker in South Africa at the moment. He recently marked his resurgence from a long injury lay-off with three goals in two appearances against Kaizer Chiefs, which carried SuperSport into the MTN8 final. Few Bafana options offer both aerial and ground threats like the 30-year-old, and Lebo Mothiba’s withdrawal has arguably afforded him less competition for the main position up front.