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South Africa may pick Swiss, Croatian defenders for CAN

Centre-back Nikola Tavares, 20, who is on the books of Crystal Palace, was born in Cape Town to Croatian parents.

The Africa Cup of Nations trophy. Picture: @CAF_Online/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has included defenders who have played for Croatia and Switzerland at age-limit levels in the provisional 30-man squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) in Egypt.

Centre-back Nikola Tavares, 20, who is on the books of Crystal Palace, was born in Cape Town to Croatian parents.

Right-back Joel Untersee, 25, on loan to FC Zurich from Empoli, left Johannesburg as a child with his Swiss parents.

Both are eligible to play for South Africa because they have not represented their adopted countries in a senior competitive match.

Baxter said on Tuesday that the pair would be considered for the final 23-man squad provided they obtain South African passports.

Including Tavares and Untersee, there are nine Europe-based professionals, three of whom are with French Ligue 1 clubs.

Bafana Bafana are in Group D for the 21 June/19 July tournament with fellow former champions the Ivory Coast and Morocco, and outsiders Namibia.

The group appears the toughest of the six with only the countries finishing first and second guaranteed places in the second round.

South Africa will face the Ivorian Elephants on 24 June, the Namibian Brave Warriors four days later and the Moroccan Atlas Lions on 1 July.

The squad will prepare in Dubai for the biennial African football showcase, which features 24 teams for the first time.

Provisional squad

Goalkeepers:
Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs),
Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits),
Rowen Williams (SuperSport Utd)

Defenders:
Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo (capt), Buhle Mkhwanazi (all Wits),
Daniel Cardoso, Ramahlwe Mphahlele (both Chiefs),
Rivaldo Coetzee (Mamelodi Sundowns),
Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates),
Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City),
Nikola Tavares (Crystal Palace/ENG),
Joel Untersee (FC Zurich/SUI).

Midfielders:
Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Themba Zwane (all Sundowns),
Thembinkosi Lorch, Ben Motshwari (both Pirates),
Keagan Dolly (Montpellier/FRA),
Dean Furman (SuperSport),
Fortune Makaringe (Maritzburg Utd),
Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford/ENG),
Thulani Serero (Vitesse Arnhem/NED),
Bongani Zungu (Amiens/FRA).

Forwards:
Lebogang Maboe, Sibusiso Vilakazi (both Sundowns),
Kermit Erasmus (Cape Town),
Lebo Mothiba (Racing Strasbourg/FRA),
Percy Tau (Royal Union St Gilloise/BEL),
Lars Veldwijk (Sparta Rotterdam/NED).

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