JOHANNESBURG, Dec 30 (Reuters) - South Africa named Dutch-based Thulani Serero in their squad for the African Nations Cup finals on Sunday despite the midfielder not having played since suffering a groin injury in September.
He is one of seven foreign-based players in a 23-man squad that coach Gordon Igesund described as “an exciting collection of young players” at a news conference in Johannesburg.
Igesund said he was prepared to gamble on Serero’s fitness because of the match-winning ability of the 22-year-old from Ajax Amsterdam. Serero participated in a three-match training camp this week before being included.
“It is a dream side that I believe can do us justice at the tournament,” said the coach after opting to announce his squad early to begin serious preparations from Jan. 2.
Hosts South Africa play warm-up games against Norway on Jan. 8 and Algeria on Jan. 12 before the opening game of the tournament against the Cape Verde Islands at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Jan. 19.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK Salonika), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FF), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs). (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Southbroom; Editing by Justin Palmer)