Mane ab­sence a po­ten­tial bonus for Bafana

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Sport - MMASEKEPE MATSEBANE mmasekepem@the­newage.co.za

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 ta­ble­top­ping 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 2­0 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 The 25 year old holds the record for the fastest Premier League hat-trick, scor­ing three goals in just 176 se­conds against As­ton Villa. 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 France­based box­to­box mid­fielder Bon­gani Zungu will miss the two clashes af­ter be­ing sent off in the pre­vi­ous match against Burk­ina Faso that Bafana won 3­1.

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.

JUST HOW DAN­GER­OUS IS MANE?

PICTURE: AFP

IN­JURED: Sene­gal for­ward Sa­dio Mane.

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