Chase for Afcon spot heats up

2012-12-13 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Benni McCarthy and Katlego Mphela are both in a race to prove their fitness to Bafana coach Gordon Igesund as the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations fast approaches.

According to the website, Orlando Pirates striker and South Africa’s all-time record goal-scorer McCarthy only recently returned from a groin strain he sustained while on international duty against Brazil on September.

Mphela, meanwhile, has been given a fresh chance at Mamelodi Sundowns under new coach Pitso Mosimane, who handed the veteran a rare start in the PSL, which he grabbed with both hands as he headed home the winner against Black Leopards on Sunday.

The pair were, however, omitted from Igesund’s 24-man squad to take on Malawi before Christmas, but the Bafana coach insists he has not forgotten about them, with the 2013 showpiece kicking off in January.

“Benni and Mphela are in a race against time to get themselves fit, but I’m happy that they both played on the weekend,” Igesund said.

“There are a few games in the league, but I will have a good look at them and try and help them to get to a good level of fitness.”

On the goalkeeping front, Igesund called up Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana first-choice Itumeleng Khune, Brazilians shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands and Orlando Pirates back-up Senzo Meyiwa, with competition between the sticks the order of the day for the coach.

“The goalkeepers that we have selected will compete for their places. It’s a very healthy situation that we have.

“It will keep everyone on their toes,” he said.

“We have not had many training sessions and I need to see whether these players can do a certain job for me or not.”

He concluded: “I think the positive is that a lot of players have put their hands up and said I want to play for Bafana.

“I think the attitude from the players is good. The competition has become fierce and so we are able to select a team that really wants to play for us.”

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