Igesund brushes off Bafana’s injury concerns

2013-03-20 08:31

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Coach Gordon Igesund has played down Bafana Bafana’s injury concerns ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier against Central African Republic (CAR) in Cape Town on Saturday.

“I think obviously it’s very unfortunate, but this happens in football, you get injuries here and there,” Igesund said yesterday.

Siyabonga Sangweni and Tsepo Masilela were withdrawn from the squad this week due to injuries, and were replaced by Tebogo Langerman and Eric Mathoho.

With former captain Bongani Khumalo dropped from the squad, South Africa have lost in the region of 100 caps in terms of experience.

But to counter-balance the loss to a certain degree is the reappearance of Morgan Gould, returning to fitness, and the Kaizer Chiefs man will now be expected to hold the back four together.

Alongside Gould will be either Siyanda Xulu or Mathoho, Gould’s Kaizer Chiefs teammate. Xulu and Mathoho combined have less than a handful of international caps, while the man likely to play at left-back, Thabo Matlaba, has also only played a couple of games in the Bafana jersey.

“I have enough depth in the squad,” Igesund said.

“Eric Mathoho has been playing well, Siyanda Xulu has just been Man of the Match (for his Russian club) – he’s a fantastic player and will add value.

“And Thabo Nthethe is captain of Bloemfontein Celtic and a player I can always rely upon.”

Nthethe was unlikely to crack the nod, and many believed Mathoho would line up next to Gould due to their understanding at club level.

“Siya (Sangweni) is a big blow for us – not to have him, he’s such a good quality player,” Nthethe said.

“But the guys they called in, like Mathoho, he can make sure the nation goes forward, and we won’t lose focus.

“Having Morgan back means a lot because he has been here for a while and he brings a lot of experience. It makes the rest of us comfortable and we believe we can do well in this game.”

Gould’s presence could be crucial to a team lying behind Ethiopia and Botswana in their qualifying group.

The former Jomo Cosmos and SuperSport United defender was up for the challenge and said he could not wait to don the national team jersey again after a six-month injury enforced absence from the game.

“It’s a really good feeling being called up to the national team. It’s good for me just to be playing football,” Gould said.

“I just came back from a career threatening injury. You live under pressure, but most of us thrive under pressure, so I have to just enjoy the pressure and use it to my advantage.

“Just being given a chance is overwhelming. Whoever gets the chance to play must carry on where the other guys have left off, because they have done a tremendous job.”

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