Bafana legend on Lyle Foster: Does he want to play for the country or not?

Bafana legend on Lyle Foster: Does he want to play for the country or not?
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana legend Aaron Mokoena has questioned Lyle Foster‘s commitment to the cause of the South African senior football team in the Ivory Coast.

Mokoena in a recent interview with Radio2000 as per GameOn, criticized the striker's mental readiness to play for Burnley in the Premier League while he can't play for Bafana Bafana in the upcoming African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Foster was initially included in South Africa's preliminary squad for the tournament despite Burnley informing them that he won't be available. He was eventually omitted from the final squad released in December, last year.

“It's a sensible decision from the South African FA, in terms of supporting the advice of experts,” Kompany told reporters at the time.

“We didn't have Lyle available for a month or more because we tried to put him first and part of his rehabilitation is being in a small environment.

Burnley forward, Lyle Foster sitting down on the pitch
Credit: Icon Sport

“It's the traveling and everything else, the people who advised us throughout this period didn't think it was time yet for Lyle.”

Foster was out of action in November due to a reported recurring mental health issue before returning in December to play for Burnley in the league games against Everton, Fulham and Liverpool.

Coach of Bafana Bafana Hugo Broos, and Vincent Kompany had also discussed the player's mental health troubles with medical staff before making the decision to exclude him from the squad.

“Collectively we are doing something that is good for a South African human being, before we call him a player. We're taking care of him and looking after him. He'll be ready to perform for his country again at some point,” Foster's coach said.

However, the former Bafana captain was not impressed as reported by Soccer Laduma on Wednesday.

Aaron Mokoena's comments on Lyle Foster

“Look, it's easy to come out and say ‘I don't want to play for the national team anymore or you pick and choose the matches (you want to play)',” said Mokoena.

Bafana Bafana legend, Aaron Mokoena
Credit: Icon Sport

The Bafana legend continued: “I can think of a Benni (McCarthy). Benni once said ‘I'm retiring from international games', you know? So, it's easy to say it. Right now, it's up to the boy (Foster) because if he had those mental problems, why is he still playing in a busy period every three days?”

“The question comes up to say ‘does he want to play for the country or not?' I think he is the only one to answer that question. But we all need him, we all need him,” Mokoena reiterates.

“All I can say is that the moment he doesn't play for Burnley then he will remember Bafana Bafana if he does want to play for the country.”

What's next for Bafana Bafana?

South Africa have arrived in Ivory Coast for the AFCON tournament. Broos and his men will play their opening Group E match against Mali on 16 January.

Bafana Bafana will be eager to make their AFCON appearance count with or without Foster in their attack.

Along with the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, South Africa are one of the favourites to qualify from the group composed of a tricky Malian side and southern neighbours Namibia.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.