DURBAN – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has been consistent with his selection in the goalkeeping department but an injury to Itumeleng Khune may force him to find a replacement for the Kaizer Chiefs player.
Baxter has preferred the trio of Khune, Darren Keet and Ronwen Williams, with Khune commanding the regular starting berth.
Bafana have a tricky Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Libya in March. They need a point to book their ticket to Egypt, and a victory for Libya will see them through.
Khune is expected to be out for four months which will see him miss the clash against Libya. AmaZulu shot-stopper, Siyabonga Mbatha, believes that an injury to Khune is an opportunity for any South African goalkeeper to raise his hands and say they can take his place.
“Unfortunately in life, something bad needs to happen to someone in order for another person to rise. It is so unfortunate that Itu is injured. I’m sure there’s a lot of South African-born goalkeepers who see this as an opportunity to represent the national team.
From my side, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing. If the Bafana Bafana coach feels that I’m ready to be in the Bafana set-up, I would really appreciate it,” Mbatha said.
Bafana are yet to concede in the Afcon qualifiers. They have kept five clean sheets in matches against Nigeria, Libya and Seychelles.
Mbatha has featured in 12 games for Usuthu and wants to up his game.
“I’m not satisfied with my performance so far this season. I feel that there are areas where I need to improve. I’m currently working on those areas. One of my advantages is that I’m working with the experienced guys.
Our goalkeeper coach, Davies Phiri, has won the Afcon, Moeneeb Josephs and Siyabonga Nomvethe have all played in the Afcon. They are all helping me a lot,” he added.
Usuthu face Highlands Park at King Zwelithini Stadium on Saturday at 8.15pm.
“They play a different type of football. The most important thing is to put them under pressure. We need to make sure that we don’t allow them to play the way they like to play so that we will be able to get three points,” Mbatha explained.
Usuthu have proven difficult to beat at home this season but have a dismal away record.
“Our problem is that we are using the same approach home and away. You can’t just box everywhere but that’s what we do. Our coach doesn’t believe in sitting back and defending. We play open game home and away. I think we need to do it cautiously away from home,” Mbatha elaborated.@Minenhlecr7