INJURY HITS GROUP E TABLE TOPPERS, SOUTH AFRICA

INJURY HITS GROUP E TABLE TOPPERS, SOUTH AFRICA

After getting off to a dream start that saw them do the unthinkable with a 2-0 away victory to Nigeria in Uyo in June 2017, South Africa’s campaign has been rocked by unexpected turns with injuries to key players that has destabilised the preparations ahead of their crucial Group E match against Libya on Saturday in Durban.
France-based midfielder, Bongani Zungu alongside Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane have all been ruled out of the Day Two clash, forcing Stuart Baxter to call up Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Modiba and Vincent Pule, his first ever national team call-up.
The Bafana Bafana camp was given another blow when Lebo Mothiba of French side Strasbourg, was ruled out due to to a hamstring injury, forcing Stuart Baxter to summon Bidvest Wits’ Mxolisi Macuphu another debutant in his place.
The team reported for camp on Monday and will be involved in a series of friendly matches against local sides including AmaZulu to fine-tune for the crucial match.
The South Africans will be hoping to put the injury withdrawals behind them as victory will see their qualification dreams nearing the reality zone, after picking the maximum points against Nigeria in the Group E opener away from home.
However, Bafana Bafana learnt the hard way about taking teams lightly having been shocked by Cape Verde in their FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 qualifiers which saw them miss out on yet another appearance at the Mundial.
“We would love to wrap it up quickly so that we can get an opportunity to rotate some players and give other youngsters some international experience” said head coach Stuart Baxter.
“However, we need to be humble in our approach to this Libya game. Looking at global football, names have become less and less important and even on the African continent, we get constant surprises from teams that would have been whipping boys few years ago.
“The Libyan team may not be as popular and big as Senegal and the likes, but I have seen them play and give Morocco a scare, so we need to be adequately prepared” concluded Baxter.
While they are seen as underdogs in the group, Libya thrashed a hapless Seychelles 5-1 in their opening game and will be hoping to make a return to the African showpiece.

The North Africans’ last AFCON appearance was in 2012 where they made their third showing and were booted out in the group stages. Their best showing was back in 1982 where they finished second place as hosts.

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