ON BACK FOOT FOR AFCON
Da Gama not in the camp against Mauritania, as he must guide the U-23s
Bafana Bafana’s technical team will be depleted for the crunch Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Mauritania that kicks off at 7pm SA time in Nouakchott on Saturday. The team will be without assistant coach Owen Da Gama, who will be with the national Under-23 side in Tunisia for two friendly matches.
Da Gama’s side is preparing for the CAF African Under-23 Championship in Senegal in November and December. That tournament will be used as the Olympic qualifier, with the top three countries qualifying to represent the continent at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
In June, Da Gama joined Bafana on the eve of their opening qualifier against Gambia, as he was involved with his side in a friendly encounter against Egypt.
Safa confirmed that only Thabo Senong would be on the bench to assist coach Shakes Mashaba.
Last week, Mashaba emphasised the importance of this game, saying he would drum it into his troops that it was a must-win.
Mashaba’s only concern was the fitness of his charges, as most of them had just started playing competitively over the past few weeks following a lengthy recess.
However, the good news for Bafana was how striker Tokelo Rantie played a part in Bournemouth’s 4-0 drubbing of League 2 side Hartlepool in the League Cup on Wednesday night.
Rantie missed Bafana’s previous encounter as he was getting married and did not feature in the opening three matches of Bournemouth’s Premiership schedule.
Thulani Serero should also be in a good frame of mind following Ajax Amsterdam coach Frank de Boer’s pronouncement that they would keep the midfielder. The club had earlier said it was open to offers for Serero, who has yet to play in this campaign after injuring his ankle in preseason training in July.
Dean Furman also has two games under his belt for SuperSport United. He played against Mpumalanga Black Aces and Jomo Cosmos.
Bafana are looking to bounce back from their disappointing start, when they were held to a goalless draw by Gambia at home.
Mashaba said it would be imperative to pile the pressure on log leaders Cameroon, who visit Gambia.
With only the top teams and two best runners-up qualifying for the 2017 tournament in Gabon, Mashaba knows anything less than a victory in Mauritania will be a serious setback.
Bafana begin their camp tomorrow and leave on Thursday.
DUTY CALLS Owen Da Gama will miss Bafana’s game, as he will be with his under23 team DEPLETED Ephraim Shakes Mashaba will be without Owen Da Gama on Saturday