Bafana Bafana will be without Sweden-based midfielder May Mahlangu and striker Tokelo Rantie as well Russia-based defender Siyanda Xulu in the international friendly match against Lesotho on Sunday, 2 June 2013, at the Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.
Mahlangu and Rantie will be playing for their clubs on Saturday, 1 June, while Xulu is a late call-up who replaced the injured Siboniso Gaxa. The trio is expected in South Africa on Monday, 3 June, in time to travel to Cameroon with the national team.
The three players were notable absentees at Bafana Bafana’s first training session held at the Germiston Stadium on Thursday, 30 June. Twenty one (21) players reported for national team duty including overseas-based defender Anele Ngcongca, midfielder Dean Furman and defender Ricardo Nunes.
South Africa travels to Yaounde, Cameroon, on Tuesday 4 June to play the first of two 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In the first match Bafana face the Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday 8 June. The second clash will be against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa a week later on Sunday 16 June at the National Stadium.
Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund is not perturbed that the players could be fatigued after a long and gruelling season.
“The players are a little bit tired but that can be expected at the end of a long season. So we have devised a training programme that will ensure that we don’t burn them out but have them ready for the two crucial matches against CAR and Ethiopia. That’s the situation and we can’t change that but I am positive they will be on top of their game by the time we face CAR. We can’t look for excuses as the players around the world have been playing just as many games,” said Igesund in a statement released by SAFA.
At the first training session, the Bafana Bafana mentor was working on possible combinations following a spate of injuries that have rocked the national team. Kagisho Dikgacoi (who has not been replaced), Siboniso Gaxa and Tsepo Masilela (replaced by Nunes) all withdrew from the squad before the start of the camp.
“Injuries happen all the time in football and I am not one to complain about injured players. So we are working on combinations especially in defence where the players haven’t really played together in the national team. Of course we want to win the match against Lesotho but the most important thing is to get the combinations right and take the confidence to the matches against CAR and Ethiopia.
“Nthete and Mathoho have played together at Bloemfontein Celtic and Mathoho and Mashamaite play together at Chiefs – but that doesn’t mean we should go that route, we cannot afford guess work in that department. We have to make sure we get it right. The truth is whatever combination we use might or might not work against Lesotho, but we must get it right for the CAR and Ethiopia matches,” added Igesund.
“I believe we have players that are capable of holding their own in the national team, it’s just a matter of getting those combinations right. But yes it is trying times for us, and the guys will have put up their hands and given us a good showing.”
Bafana Bafana leave for Lesotho on Friday, 31 May after their training session in the morning.
They will be minus the eight Kaizer Chiefs players in the squad as they will be attending their season-end club awards which will take place on Friday night.
“It is important for the players to be at the prize giving. They have worked hard all season and deserve to be recognised by their club and sponsors. I want the players to be there and they also want to be there. After a meeting I held with their club we decided this was the best solution. The players will join us in Lesotho on Saturday morning (1 June), so they won’t miss any training session as we are only training in the afternoon,” concluded the Bafana Bafana coach.