Barker Opens Up On Rayners’ Bafana Snub

In-form Stellenbosch forward Iqraam Rayners is ‘a little bit’ disappointed about his Bafana Bafana omission but head coach Steve Barker has backed him to make it next time around.

Rayners returned to Stellenbosch after three years in Gauteng with SuperSport United and has hit eight goals and two assists in his first five games back.

But Barker feels his snub from Hugo Broos’ squad was perhaps his sensational form came a bit too late before the preliminary squad was announced.

“Yeah I think if maybe he came [back] a bit earlier or if in a month or two’s time, he continues with his form, maybe he gets a shout, if you look at the strikers being selected, they have shown good form of late,” Barker said.

“A little bit disappointed for him, he’s a little bit disappointed but he just has to continue what he’s doing; scoring goals. 

“I think he brings a different element up front as a striker with his pace and ability to stretch defences, getting in behind, his ability on set-plays and set-pieces are at a high level. Hopefully, he continues this form and he will get a shout.”

Iqraam Rayners since returning to @StellenboschFC:

5 games
8 goals
2 assists

— iDiski Times (@iDiskiTimes) March 12, 2023

Rayners, who started his professional career as a right-back with Santos in the Motsepe Foundation Championship rose to prominence when he won the Golden Boot leading to Stellies DStv Premiership promotion.

He then left for Matstatsansa on a pre-contract after his debut top-flight season but things didn’t quite work out for him in the capital city.

Five goals and 11 assists in 58 appearances didn’t quite make for the hallmark of the serial goalscorer he was poised to be during his meteoric rise, but Barker feels he was perhaps used in a role that didn’t quite get the best out of him.

“I think Iqraam is a very underrated goalscorer, he’s shown for us, when he helped us get promotion in our first season that he is a goalscorer, he’s very comfortable in front of goal, I think we just maybe playing in a position that gets him most opportunities,” Barker said.

“We know when he gets opportunities he will take them, he’s on one goal every two games for us, I mean eight goals and two assists, if you add the goals and assists at SuperSport he is probably one of the leading players for goal involvements this season.

“We know he’s a quality footballer, a goalscorer and he’s come back very mature in terms of his football, he’s improved, his touch is a lot better, he’s calmness even better and as a person, he’s come back bubbly, and positive and in a happy space, so just a bit of love, playing to his strengths, hopefully, it continues that way.”

Overall, Rayners has directly contributed to 15 goals (eight goals, seven assists) in 19 games in all competitions this season.

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