Foster’s strong display for Burnley raises questions over Afcon withdrawal

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Joined: Nov 2016

Lyle Foster’s strong performance for Burnley in their 3-2 Premier League defeat against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday has raised questions over his withdrawal from the Bafana Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Foster, one of the most promising strikers to emerge from South Africa since Benni McCarthy, wrote a letter to the South African Football Association declaring he would be unavailable for next month’s Nations Cup due to his battles with mental health.

The striker’s strong performance helping his 10-man team run Villa close away from home has left South Africans further dismayed by the Orlando Pirates youth product’s withdrawal from the squad announced by Bafana coach Hugo Broos on Friday. 

With Burnley down to 10 men after Sander Berge’s 56th-minute dismissal Foster ran onto Jóhann Guðmundsson’s flick-on and produced a low finish past Villa’s Argentine World Cup-winning keeper Emiliano Martínez for his team’s second equaliser in the 71st.

Brazilian Douglas Luiz scored Villa’s last-gasp winner from the spot in the 89th.

Foster played the full 90 minutes, where, as he has been in most of his 12 appearances where he has scored four goals this season, he was often the focal point of Burnley’s attack.

Foster has only recently returned from a seven-week break as mental health issues he has been treated with at previous club KVC Westerlo in Belgium and Burnley resurfaced. He has played in the Clarets’ last four games.

The goal against Villa was his first since his return.

Broos and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany, a former player of the Bafana coach, have a close relationship and have made agreements in the past on Foster’s appearances for Bafana.

In May the striker was left out of the Bafana squad for the 2-1 dead rubber Nations Cup qualifying win against Morocco, with Broos having made a deal with Kompany that Foster would be free to turn out for the national team on big occasions.

Foster’s battle with mental health and depression is a major issue in his career and needs all the attention it can get for the striker to flourish as a footballer and person.

But if Bafana bomb out at the Nations Cup, and Foster keeps impressing in the Premier League, there will be questions over the relegation-threatened club’s decision to withhold the striker from the tournament.


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