CAPE TOWN – Bafana Bafana have been rocked by the withdrawals of a number of key midfielders and attackers for Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya.
Initially, Stuart Baxter just lost Themba Zwane and Bongani Zungu, and then Hlompho Kekana followed a few hours later on Monday.
That saw Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Modiba and Vincent Pule being called up as replacements, but there was more bad news as Lebo Mothiba sustained a hamstring tear at his French club RC Strasbourg.
Baxter waited for a medical report and scans, but accepted his fate and called up Mxolisi Machupu from Wits for Mothiba on Tuesday.
But it’s in midfield where the main disruptions occurred, so who will Baxter go for? He’s got a lot to choose from, despite not having three big players in Kekana, Zwane and Zungu available.
Dean Furman, a former captain, has been in excellent form for SuperSport United since the new season started, and he should be a shoo-in as the holding midfielder.
Sibusiso Vilakazi is probably the other near-certainty for Baxter, along with Keagan Dolly out wide. But who will be the two men playing behind Percy Tau upfront?
Young SuperSport United star Teboho Mokoena is many people’s favourite, while Maritzburg United’s Siphesihle Ndlovu operated alongside Mokoena and Kamohelo Mokotjo in Bafana’s last full-strength game against Zambia in March.
Pule has been in top form at new club Orlando Pirates, but having been a late addition with Modiba and Mabunda, he will hope to earn a bench spot.
Bafana Bafana Squad
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Ronwen Williams, Darren Keet.
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Motjeka Madisha, Siyanda Xulu, Innocent Maela, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Sifiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi.
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena, Siphesihle Ndlovu, Tiyani Mabunda, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Aubrey Modiba, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Vincent Pule.
Strikers: Keagan Dolly, Percy Tau, Bradley Grobler, Mxolisi Macuphu.@ashfakmohamed