Goalie crisis for Mashaba
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.
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