Goalie cri­sis for Mashaba

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba faces a po­ten­tial goal­keeper cri­sis ahead of the make-or­break Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier against Cameroon next month.

Nei­ther of the two can­di­dates – Black Aces’ Jack­son Mabokg­wane and Kaizer Chiefs’ Itume­leng Khune – who last kept goal for the na­tional team is cur­rently ac­tive.

Mabokg­wane last pa­trolled the poles for Aces at the end of Oc­to­ber.

With the pre­ferred Shu-Aib Wal­ters do­ing well for Muhsin Er­tuğral’s side, it does not look promis­ing for Mabokg­wane, who was in the squad when Bafana de­feated An­gola twice in World Cup qual­i­fiers in Oc­to­ber. But he has only fea­tured six times for AmaZay­oni this sea­son.

Khune’s re­turn to ac­tion against Or­lando Pi­rates last month was cut short by yet an­other in­jury. He last played at the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber against Golden Ar­rows be­fore be­ing side­lined by a knee in­jury right af­ter Pi­rates scored the equal­is­ing goal dur­ing the Soweto derby.

Af­ter al­most two months with­out ac­tion, Mashaba will have to look else­where for a goal­keeper, un­less he de­cides to go with the in­ac­tive Mabokg­wane.

Chiefs’ Reyaad Pi­eterse and Or­lando Pi­rates’ Brighton Mh­longo are two con­tenders who could fill the void.

De­spite their lack of in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, both have been do­ing well for their clubs.

Since com­ing back from a knee in­jury, which kept him out of the game for al­most three months, Mh­longo has sta­bilised the Bucs de­fence.

The for­mer na­tional Un­der-23 goal­keeper has kept Siyabonga Mpontshane and Felipe Ovono on the side­lines.

Since claim­ing the num­ber one jersey from Bril­liant Khuzwayo in De­cem­ber, Pi­eterse has also not looked back, and his per­for­mances have been in­spir­ing of late.

Aside from his goal­keeper headache, Mashaba will have to jug­gle his mid­field, as Bon­gani Zungu, who was fast es­tab­lish­ing him­self in the team, is out with an in­jury.

The soon-to-be-for­mer Mamelodi Sun­downs mid­fielder, who has signed for Por­tuguese Primeira Liga side Vi­to­ria de Guimaraes, suf­fered a hair­line frac­ture of the shin, and it was es­ti­mated he could be out for up to 12 weeks.

But Mashaba should have lots of op­tions in this po­si­tion, par­tic­u­larly with Andile Jali com­ing back af­ter serv­ing a one-match sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing his red card against An­gola.

An­other worry for Mashaba will be the in­ac­tiv­ity of striker Tokelo Rantie, who has been dropped from the first-team squad at English Premier­ship side Bournemouth.

South Africa will face the In­domitable Lions in back-to-back clashes next month and will have to win both games to en­hance their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece tour­na­ment in Gabon next year. The first leg will be played on March 26 at Stade Om­nis­port de Limbe in Cameroon, with the re­turn leg tak­ing place just three days later at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Dur­ban.

Bafana had a ter­ri­ble start to their cam­paign af­ter play­ing to a goal­less draw against Gam­bia be­fore go­ing down to Mau­ri­ta­nia 3-1. Any­thing but wins from here on will spell disas­ter for Mashaba’s side.

PHOTO: GALLO IM­AGES PHOTO: DIRK KOTZE / GALLO IM­AGES PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

IN­JURED Itume­leng Khune is re­cov­er­ing yet again IN­AC­TIVE Jack­son Mabokg­wane has not played since Oc­to­ber last year SIDE­LINED Bon­gani Zungu will miss the Bafana game due to in­jury

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