Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has stressed the importance of focusing on the present, hence his decision to call upon in-form midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala.
Tshabalala was last with the senior national team back in March 2014, when Bafana lost 5-0 to Brazil in an international friendly played at the FNB Stadium, but remained on the bench throughout the 90 minutes.
The 33-year-old attacker, who was the country’s star at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will now return to the fold when South Africa take on Senegal in back-to-back must-win World Cup qualifiers against Senegal next month.
With 90 caps to his name, the Kaizer Chiefs stalwart is set to bring vast international experience to the setup, while Baxter hopes he replicates his recent club form as a possible replacement to the suspended Andile Jali in the home-leg tie at Peter Mokaba Stadium on November 10.
“The first thing we should emphasise is this is not throwing any sort of development programme out of the window, [but] this is about here and now,” explained the Brit.
“I don’t even think this is about two games at the moment, because this is about one game. If everybody’s thinking it’s about two games – that’s a long time, that’s a big spread of time.
“We’re looking at preparing for one game, and we’ve asked ourselves the question: Having beaten Nigeria and Burkina Faso, we’ve now got one of the best teams on the continent coming to South Africa. Can we beat them in this one game [at home]? The answer to that, I believe, is yes!
“Having said that, we’re not talking four years down the line, ‘Shabba’ developing and playing the next 25 games. We’re talking about finding a squad that has enough weapons in it to knock Senegal over on South African soil.
“I think Shabba at the moment is arguably the most influential player in the [South African] league. I think he can give you a set-play, he can find that pass, he can whip one in from 30 metres and, apart from all of that, his experience in the dressing room is invaluable.
“In fact, on the other players [in the squad], I think they will enjoy seeing a Shabba that has done well and served this country so well. All of those reasons means that I’m not looking at this as a long-term thing, but even less than probably you guys are – as one game.”
Baxter added: “When we get this one [on November 10] out the way we may be in a position to make a real strike [in the away leg], but at the moment I don’t want to think any further than this one game.
“Without a performance in this one game – this 90 minutes-plus, the last one we can forget about it, so this is about here and now.”
The return leg is in Dakar on November 14.