Two key Bafana Bafana players are doubtful for Friday’s crucial 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Polokwane.
Team captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and No.: 1 keeper Itumeleng Khune are not 100% fit for the must-win encounter.
Coach Stuart Baxter says it will be too risky to field players who are not fully fit for such a key match.
Khune’s injury has been a major talking point all week.
However, the reliable keeper has already had a couple of training sessions with the team, despite arriving in Polokwane late.
Khune has shown good progress since suffering a facial fracture on Sunday, but Baxter does not want to take any chances.
“With Itu, it’s a going to be a lot of confidence. He will wear a mask. We are just in that, slightly to try and make it better for him. If we are not sure that Itu feels comfortable enough to give a performance, we will not risk him.”
To make matters worse, team captain Hlatshwayo is now also doubtful after joining the squad suffering from a bruised toe.
Stuart Baxter says, “Tyson looks like he’s in a stroll for this one and we are not going to take any chances. I think we need to be sure that we are not bringing up a player that will come out after five minutes. So, we are very doubtful that Tyson can take part.”
The absence of Hlatshwayo in central defence will force Baxter to opt for either Eric Mathoho, Clayton Daniels, or Morgan Gould.
Gould and Daniels who are team mates at SuperSport United, were impressive in the 3-1 win over Burkina Faso recently.
Bafana Bafana defender, Morgan Gould, says, “I think whoever gets the call we believe that he will do 200%, give his best but not just for himself, not just for the country, but just to show the people that we are very serious about going to our next game with a very positive result and which is a win.”
Senegal, who are top of Group D with eight points, have assembled their strongest possible side for this encounter, but Bafana Bafana players are not intimidated.
Bafana Bafana midfielder, Dean Furman, says, “It’s about rising to the challenge. I believe we are not going to see many greater challenges in our career than the two games that take us to the world cup. This is the top end. This is really where we have to stand up and be counted. Give absolutely everything because if we don’t, we’re out.”
Anything other than a win on Friday will end Bafana’s hope of going to Russia in 2018.