Mane absence a potential bonus for Bafana
IT MAY sound like a selfish thought, but if South Africa are to have a better chance of holding their own against Senegal in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, they will hope that Sadio Mane’s hamstring injury keeps him out of the two matches.
The talented Liverpool and Senegal forward is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks and that period includes the weeks in which the Lions of Teranga take on Stuart Baxter’s Bafana.
The table-topping Senegal and basement dwellers Bafana first meet on November 10 at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, before the return leg in Dakar on November 14.
Even if he does return for the second match, Mane would not be match fit to glide past defenders like he normally does when at the top of his game.
The forward was substituted 89 minutes into Senegal’s 2-0 win over the Cape Verde Islands in the World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Mane has scored three goals in four Premier League appearances this term.
He proved to be a handful despite
not scoring when the two teams met in Polokwane last year, registering an assist for Senegal in the match that Fifa has since ordered to be replayed.
But Bafanas can’t celebrate just yet, as they too have a number of players missing.
Talented France-based box-tobox midfielder Bongani Zungu will miss the two clashes after being sent off in the previous match against Burkina Faso that Bafana won 3-1.
Another midfielder, Belgiumbased Andile Jali, will miss the first clash after he picked up what was his third yellow card of the qualifiers, opening a space for players such as Tiyani Mabunda and Dean Furman to return to the national team.
Baxter may also continue to look at Kamohelo Mokotjo, who had a great game against Burkina Faso, also Hlompho Kekana, who came on after Zungu was sent off and Themba Zwane – to carry the team to Russia.
Bafana are not the only side hoping that Mane does not make it, but Cape Verde and Burkina Faso as well, who stand to benefit if Bafana and Senegal play to draws, or if Senegal fails to collect a point in the next two matches.
INJURED: Senegal forward Sadio Mane.