Shakes confident despite losing Mathoho

2011-11-29 15:04

The national Under-23 team has been rocked by injury to key defender Eric Mathoho ahead of its must-win clash against Gabon.

As a result, Mathoho, who has a troublesome knee injury, will join Thamsanqa Sangweni on the sidelines.

Sangweni is serving one match suspension after picking up a red card in the opening game against Ivory Coast on Sunday.

However, the two influential players are expected to be back in the starting line-up in the final group game against Egypt on Saturday evening.

Coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba was still confident of pocketing maximum points against the West Africans, who lost their first game against Egypt.

Mashaba said he would reshuffle his defence to fill the gap left by the Bloemfontein Celtic defender.

“Resting Mathoho for tomorrow’s game is a precautionary measure and I am sure he will be back on Saturday. This knee has been troubling him for sometime but it not so serious,” said Mashaba.

Other players who got minor knocks from the Sunday game are all expected to feature in tomorrow’s match.

The likes of Sameehg Doutie, Gladwin Shitolo, Brilliant Khuzwayo and Sibusiso Khumalo have been declared ready to play against Gabon.

Team captain Sibusiso Mxoyana was equally confident of getting good results against Gabon, saying this was a do-or-die game.

“We will go for a win because it is a make or break for us. This will judge us whether we will go through to the next round or not,” said Mxoyana.

He said the confidence has been very high at training and all the players were raring to go.

He admitted that the team did not play to their normal strength against Ivory Coast but said they have learnt from the Sunday game.

“We didn’t play as well as we wanted to against Ivory Coast but we still managed a draw. So tomorrow we will come with a different approach and go for broke. We want to do it for our country, family and friends.”

South Africa is joint second with Ivory Coast with a point apiece while Egypt leads the group with three points.

In another Group B match tomorrow Egypt will take on Ivory Coast.

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