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24 Mar 2009 09:11
A release from Bafana Bafana media officer Sifiso Cele on Monday night read much like a hospital casualty report as the players from the national soccer squad assembled in Johannesburg for Saturday’s Nelson Mandela Challenge game against Norway at Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
Fortunately most of the injuries appear curable in time for the game against the durable Scandanavians, but not surprisingly—based on past capricious records—most concern is revolving round the fitness of long-serving, enigmatic stalwart Benni McCarthy.
An initial report from Blackburn Rovers, McCarthy’s Premier League club, states that he is complaining of a hamstring injury incurred while playing in the drawn game against West Ham over the weekend.
McCarthy is also one of several players who have yet to assemble at the team’s training headquarters, but he is the only one whose designated arrival time has not been tabulated.
“The Bafana technical team are awaiting the results of an MRI scan from Blackburn Rovers,” was all the information that Cele could release, while team general manager Sipho Nkumane confirmed the unpredictable striker and top goalscorer was not in the country.
For the rest, the condition of Steven Pienaar, Everton’s in-form midfielder, is also a worry after he complained of lower back pain and a relatively mild left knee sprain.
Nasief Morris has a badly bruised right knee, but there are hopes he will resume training within the next day or two.
Israel-based Tsepo Masilela is suffering from a right leg groin injury and the Bafana medical staff are awaiting the results of his ultra-sound scan.
Kagisho Dikgacoi has a right knee ligament sprain and he too has undergone a MRI scan.
And Siphiwe Tshabalala, suffering as much from Kaizer Chiefs’ shock elimination from the Nedbank Cup at the hands of lower division Pretoria University on Saturday night, has a relatively mild ankle sprain and is expected to resume training on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Of Bafana’s 23 players for the games against Norway and Portugal next Tuesday, who have yet to join the training camp, Bernard Parker, Siyabonga Nkosi and MacBeth Sibaya are all due on Tuesday.
As for McCarthy, who knows?—Sapa
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