DURBAN – Bafana Bafana defenders Morgan Gould and Thamsanqa Mkhize are still expecting a tough battle against Senegal in two crucial World Cup qualifiers despite the loss of Sadio Mané for the Lions of Taranga.
Bafana have to earn victory in both encounters if they want to book a place in Russia. Mané, who is on the books of Liverpool, picked up a hamstring injury in Senegal’s last qualifier against Cape Verde, which ruled him out for the rest of the World Cup qualifiers.
Mané has been pivotal for Senegal in the qualifiers in their march to the top spot in Group D.
They have accumulated eight points in four matches, having won two and drawn two. Maximum points against Bafana will seal the place for Senegal in the World Cup.
Cape Town City defender Mkhize, who operated at right back when Bafana thumped Burkina Faso a week ago at FNB Stadium, made it clear that Senegal have enough quality in their arsenal to do the job with the exuberant Mané.
“As much as it is our desire to play against world-class players, they need have other top players that will replace Mané. The majority of their squad are players who are plying their trade in top European leagues. It is still going to be a difficult game like the one that we recently played against Burkina Faso.
“The clash against Burkina Faso wasn’t easy at all. The coach (Stuart Baxter) prepared us well for that game and during the day, we were able to execute his plan and instruction. We want to thank all the people who supported us and they must keep on getting behind us,” Mkhize explained.
Mkhize, together with Gould, were going to be tasked with an assignment to marshal Mané if he was available for the Lions of Taranga.
“I’m not even paying a lot of attention to that (Mané’s injury). We have to do the job whether there is a certain individual or not. They are still a good side,” Gould said.
“Possibilities are endless (for us to qualify for the World Cup). We have a never-say-die attitude. We need the people to support us. They are the biggest let down for us.
“When other teams are doing their best in other countries, they get the support and when they doing their worst, they get the support.
“In South Africa, we don’t get the same support. You only get support when you are doing well. We asked them to come there in their numbers and just support whatever the outcome, it is football.”
Bafana are sitting at the base of the group with four points from four matches. They need six points to qualify for the World Cup, and next month they will face Senegal home and away in the must-win encounters.