After already bidding farewell to two players earlier this week, Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s problems increased on Wednesday when influential midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi was ruled out of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles.
Vilakazi suffered a nasty left Achilles tendon rupture during a training game against SuperSport United’s first team on Wednesday.
Normally such injuries can take anything from six to nine months for a total recovery, which could mean that the 28-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns star may even be in doubt for next year’s Afcon in Cameroon, which takes place from June 15-July 13.
The SA Football Association said on their website on Wednesday that Vilakazi had gone down “under an innocuous challenge and from his grimacing reaction, one could tell he knew his time with the national team during this period was over”.
Baxter and the rest of the technical team have yet to decide whether to call up a replacement at this late stage of the week for Saturday’s clash at the FNB Stadium (3pm kickoff), and the return leg next Tuesday (2.30pm SA time) in Seychelles.
Vilakazi’s withdrawal comes after his Sundowns teammate Thapelo Morena and Orlando Pirates’ Vincent Pule had to pull out due to injury as well.
They were replaced by Thamsanqa Mkhize of Cape Town City and Thembinkosi Lorch of Orlando Pirates.
For the record, Lebo Mothiba scored for Bafana in the 1-0 win over SuperSport in the practice match, with Baxter having employed different teams in each half to assess all the players.
Some action shots from the Bafana Bafana practice match against Supersport United at Megawatt Park on Wednesday.
Bafana Bafana beat United 1-0 through a Lebo Mothiba sweet strike in the first half pic.twitter.com/do6NZ0GEWd