Bafana’s goalkeeper dilemma turning into a crisis

2008-10-21 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Having found himself immersed in a dilemma of sorts in most other departments, Bafana coach Joel Santana now finds himself confronted by a problem in an area that has traditionally been regarded as something of a safe haven — that of goalkeeping.

Suddenly, all the leading contenders are either off-form, injured, out of match conditioning or simply not up to scratch for this critical role.

And the news from Germany this week that Rowen Fernandez will be out until the end of the year — and possibly much longer according to an Arminia Bielefeld official — while recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament has added to what is not far off being a bit of a crisis.

Kaizer Chiefs’ “Wonder Boy”, Itumeleng Khune, who is widely regarded as Bafana’s number one at this time, has descended back to earth with a shuddering bang after his meteoric, fairytale rise to prominence last season, with his inexperience and impetuosity exposed.

Veteran Brian Baloyi (34) made a return to the Bafana line-up in the friendly international against Ghana last week, but the elementary blunder that resulted in the Black Stars’ only goal in a 2-1 defeat indicated that he is not the answer for Bafana’s future engagements in the Confederations Cup and the World Cup — or the present for that matter.

Moeneeb Josephs, another goalkeeper in and out of the Bafana squad, is awesome and brilliant one moment and erratic and unpredictable the next — hardly a recipe for the challenges that lie ahead against world-class opposition.

And ironically, it is Calvin Marlin, another Sundowns’ player who has been the Bafana goalkeeper in the past, who is considered by many authorities to be potentially the number-one South African goalkeeper because of his superior technique and consistency.

Marlin, however, has been out of major competitive soccer for the best part of six months as a result of injury and has failed to regain a place in the Sundowns’ line-up since he reported fit a month ago.

And so the goalkeeping issue confronting Santana looks murky, to say the least, with a number of other candidates in the wings, but no one standing out as the World Cup heir apparent. — Sapa.

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