South Africa will look to wrap up qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations when they face Sudan in Durban on Saturday for their penultimate Group A match. Kick-off at the Moses Mabhida Stadium is set for 3pm.
Bafana Bafana will secure a place in next year’s finals if they defeat Sudan. A draw will also be enough for coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba’s side, but only if Nigeria fail to defeat Congo away from home in the group’s other match on Saturday.
It has not been the best of build-ups for the hosts, who will be playing in the memory of their late goalkeeper and captain Senzo Meyiwa. The Orlando Pirates player was shot and killed last month, having played every minute of the qualifying campaign for Bafana Bafana and having kept four clean sheets from as many matches.
Either Belgium-based Darren Keet or Kaizer Chiefs’ Brilliant Khuzwayo is likely to be tasked with filling Meyiwa’s boots.
In addition, Bafana were dealt a blow on Tuesday with the news that Sibusiso Vilakazi (who scored two goals against Sudan in the teams’ first group meeting back in September) and May Mahlangu have both been ruled out of the match.
The former is injured, while the latter withdrew from the squad after citing fatigue, something that has annoyed coach Mashaba.
“This is not acceptable for a player to talk about fatigue when they have to represent their national team. It’s just that I no longer get angry these days, because I think I must also afford myself a smile. We will just follow this matter up and get to the bottom of it, I can only hope people will understand when these players are not called again in the national team,” said Mashaba.
Safa has since banned Mahlangu from future Bafana Bafana activities as punishment for his perceived lack of patriotism.
Thulani Serero is also an injury worry, though he is being closely monitored by Bafana’s medical team and managed a full training session on Tuesday.
Mashaba has emphasised a desire for his team to get qualification out of the way this weekend in order to take the pressure off of next Wednesday’s final Group A match away to Afcon holders Nigeria.
“We don’t prioritise any of the games …we take them all equally,” said Mashaba.
“It is going to be more than the three points at stake. However, I will be happy if we sum up this by beating Sudan, which will make our life easy when we go to Nigeria.”
Sudan, placed bottom of the group on three points, still have an outside chance of qualifying for the finals, though they will need to defeat Bafana Bafana this weekend and claim victory at home to Congo next week Wednesday.
Story Courtesy of Supersport.