PRAIA, Cape Verde – Bafana Bafana have wrapped up their preparation here for Friday’s night’s crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier against hosts Cape Verde, with coach Stuart Baxter yet to decide who between Wayne Sandilands and Ronwen Williams will replace Itumeleng Khune in goal.
The first-choice goalkeeper was withdrawn from the squad last week following a contagious chest infection, which had forced him to miss two of Kaizer Chiefs’ Absa Premiership matches – a 1-1 draw away to Bloemfontein Celtic and the 2-1 defeat to SuperSport United.
Adding to the blow was the news that Darren Keet, usually Khune’s back-up at Bafana, had also failed to recover from an a knee injury, even after an injection that was supposed to be the silver bullet to get him ready to travel to Praia.
“I have asked André (Arendse, the goalkeeper coach) for his opinion, and he will give that to me later in the evening and I will sleep on it, then make a call on it,” said Baxter.
Williams, who was originally in the squad as probably the third-choice behind Khune and Keet, was joined by his SuperSport United teammate and challenger for the No 1 spot in Reyaad Pieterse, as well as Orlando Pirates shot-stopper Sandilands.
“I will basically make a decision overnight because that is how close they are. Probably Reyaad is going to be the back-up, and it is going to be Wayne’s experience and Ronwen’s form over a long period,” the coach explained.
“Wayne has been solid in training and shown great attitude. Ronwen was in the squad originally because of the way he had been playing, and was with us in Nigeria.
“It is going to be very much who do we think is going to suit this game, not about saying ‘you are poor and you are great’.”
Bafana are currently in second place in Group D of the World Cup qualifiers behind log leaders Burkina Faso, who are only at the summit because of a superior goal difference.
They are followed by Senegal and then Cape Verde, who lost both their opening matches and will see their hopes to get to Russia next year dashed should they suffer another loss.
The Bafana game kicks off at 8.30pm SA time on Friday.