Nikola Tavares appears for Crystal Palace under-23s. Photo: Crystal Palace/Twitter

Premier League defender keen on Bafana switch

Nikola Tavares could be set to switch from Croatia to South Africa.


Nikola Tavares appears for Crystal Palace under-23s. Photo: Crystal Palace/Twitter

Crystal Palace defender Nikola Tavares is apparently eager to switch allegiances back to the country of his birth.

Tavares, the son of a Portuguese South African father and Croatian mother, currently holds a Croatian passport and has represented the Balkan nation at under 18 and under 19 level but SA Under-23 coach David Notoane has convinced him to join the South African under-23 group in their bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Notoane has issued a call-up for Tavares and other overseas-based players Luther Singh (GD Chaves‚ Portugal)‚ Lyle Foster (Monaco‚ France)‚ Liam Jordan (Koge‚ Denmark)‚ Thabo Cele (Cova Da Piedade‚ Portugal) and Kabelo Seriba (LU/Metta‚ Latvia).

It is believed that Tavares, who is yet to turn 20, will accept the call up having had contact with the new under-23 mentor charged with securing participation in back to back Olympics for the group.

Tavares offers the under-23s something a but special being a left-sided central midfielder who has been exposed to top level football.

Notoane explained: “He [Tavares] is a boy that I checked personally in terms of the reports we get weekly. I saw that here is a Nikola Tavares who is playing consistently in the Crystal Palace under-23 and luckily the senior coach [Stuart Baxter] also had an eye on him and we discussed possibilities of him coming.

“Croatia is also looming, they invited him first by the way to the under-20s. So we have a situation where I think there is something. He is a left-footed centre-back and there’s not many in the country that you can draw into from the database.

“He has given the commitment to avail himself, so we are checking other logistical issues in trying to win him over.”

South Africa take on Angola over two legs during the upcoming Fifa international break in the second qualifying round of the u23 AFCON which also serves as an Olympic qualifier.