Bafana ready to take on Sudan

2014-11-12 00:00

THE latest instalment of South Africa’s never-ending club versus country debate played out yesterday with news that influential midfielder May Mahlangu would not be joining Bafana Bafana for their Africa Cup of Nations duel against Sudan in Durban this weekend.

Mahlangu, who plays his football in Sweden with IFK Gothenberg, dropped the bomb on Bafana yesterday via e-mail, citing fatigue for withdrawing from the squad. The 25-year-old had been recalled to coach Shakes Mashaba’s squad for the third and final round of qualifying fixtures, but has now put his international future in jeopardy.

“The next time these players are not called [up], you must understand the risk,” said a clearly frustrated Mashaba after Bafana’s morning training session outside Mabhida yesterday.

“When I took up this position, I spoke about the question of patriotism, which is the most important thing. What about the players who have been making sacrifices for the team? Those are the players we have to look at.”

Mashaba confirmed South African Football Association (Safa) would follow up on the matter, but remained confident his side would be ready for Saturday without Mahlangu’s services.

“I think we need to follow up with the powers that be, maybe Fifa or Caf, because it is not acceptable for a player to tell us this,” he said.

“But, I don’t get angry nowadays, I told myself I must afford myself a smile.

“The country has got too much talent for us to get disappointed about just one person.”

There was more concern with the confirmation Wits midfielder Sibusiso Vila­kazi, heavily praised for Bafana’s success in their first four qualifying games, had also withdrawn with a toe injury.

Ajax Amsterdam playmaker Thulani Serero was likely to feature against Sudan despite carrying a slight thigh strain.

“It’s not a major injury or one that means he will be out of the team. It’s something minor and we are monitoring him,” team doctor Thulani Ngwenya said.

Yesterday’s training session was Bafana’s first in Durban after they spent Monday paying respects to Senzo Meyiwa – visiting his grave and family.

Mashaba said he had been highly impressed with the maturity shown by his players in dealing with the Meyiwa tragedy, but added no decision had yet been made on a replacement captain for Saturday.

“We will announce everything on Friday. We can do it now, but there are a lot of things that can happen in between,” he said.

“I didn’t expect this high level of performance from the boys, but everything I have seen tells me they are going on and have put that behind their backs. We are ready for the game now.”

Group A fixtures

Saturday

3 pm — South Africa v Sudan

4.30 pm — Congo v Nigeria

Group A standings

P W D L GF GA GD Pts

SA 4 2 2 0 5 0 5 8

Congo 4 2 1 1 5 4 1 7

Nigeria 4 1 1 2 5 5 0 4

Sudan 4 1 0 3 2 8 -6 3

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