Another injury withdrawal for Bafana

Bafana Bafana defender Anele Ngcongca is set to be the third injury-enforced withdrawal in the squad ahead of the team’s international friendly against Burkina Faso at Ellis Park Stadium on Wednesday night.

Ngcongca hurt his Achilles tendon while playing for his Belgian club, Genk FC this past weekend and is unlikely to be travelling to South Africa for the match, according to Bafana doctor Ephraim Nematswerani.

Though, the national side’s medical team will still be awaiting a final report from Belgium before confirming the withdrawal.

“He is going to go through an MRI scan today [Monday],” said Nematswerani.

“The prognosis is not very good but we will not give final confirmation of his withdrawal until we receive a report from his club doctors and whether he will be included in this camp or not.”

Other injuries
There is adequate cover for Ngcongca as fellow right backs Siboniso Gaxa and Happy Jele are in the 23-man team, and he will not need to be replaced.

The two other injury withdrawals have been captain Steven Pienaar and fellow midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane because of groin and knee injuries respectively, and have been replaced with Daylon Claasen and Oupa Manyisa.

The only player yet to arrive is midfield strongman Kagisho Dikgacoi who is expected to arrive on Tuesday morning.

The England-based player is applying for a new work permit, and he has to get a visa from the British high commission office before boarding a plane on Monday evening.

Despite the interruptions, Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane still expects his charges to be formidable against the physically-imposing Burkinabe.

‘Serious stuff’
This is the team’s last preparatory match before they face Niger away in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier group match in September.

“We have a difficult team to play on Wednesday that has six players based in France, Russia, Turkey and Portugal so this is not a Mickey Mouse team, this is a serious stuff,” Mosimane said.

“We chose this kind of game because the Burkinabe are from West Africa and have the same mentality, same body shape as Niger.

“When you play big guys you must understand that set pieces will play an important role, and if you don’t do well in that department then you get punished.”

Bafana’s plan is on good results in their next three matches against Burkina Faso (home), Niger (away) and Sierra Leone (home)—the latter two being Nations Cup qualifier ties.

Waited to be seeded
South Africa are expected to qualify for the continental tourney set for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, with the draw for the tournament set to be conducted on October 29.

The South Africans are currently seventh on the African rankings while Burkina Faso are higher in fourth position.

“We must win because we are playing at home, and also to boost our rankings so that we are seeded when the draw is conducted,” said Mosimane.

“Teams like Cameroon, Nigeria and [Côte d’Ivoire] always finish among the top eight in big tournaments, and do you know why? It’s because they are always seeded.

“We should always be in the top 10, that’s the most important thing, for us to also be seeded.”—Sapa