Mamelodi Sundowns winger Keagan Dolly is unlikely to feature for Bafana Bafana against Mauritania in the final round of the 2017 Gabon Afria Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Dolly has missed training since his arrival in Nelspruit as he is undergoing treatment on his hamstring injury.
He was able to take part in the warm-up sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, but still did not get anywhere near the gruelling football sessions on both days.
“All the players are ready to play except Keagan Dolly who still has a problem with his hamstring. I don’t want to pre-empt but I had a chat with the team doctor and Dolly remains very doubtful to play against Mauritania. We may consider him for the
next match against Egypt but even then we don’t want to rush him, we want to give him time especially looking at the heavy schedule at his club,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba.
But Mashaba is facing another big challenge.
“The boys were buzzing at training and we are sitting with a problem of who to play or not to play, but that’s a positive for us and we would rather have that than be with a group of players we are not happy with from what we have seen at training,”
After five matches, South Africa is third on the table in Group M with six points following one win, three draws and a loss. Cameroon leads the pack with 11 points with Mauritania four points adrift. Gambia is bottom of the table with just two
While Bafana Bafana are out of the running for a spot in Gabon, Mashaba says he would like to finish the qualifiers on high. He is also aware that the visitors could pose a serious threat as they still stand a chance of qualifing for the 2017
African soccer showpiece.
“Yes, we would really like to end off with a win that will give us nine points in the qualifers which will still not take us anywhere. But we know very well that this will not be an easy game because Mauritania come here with high hopes of
qualifying. They will not be like sheep to slaugher but we are ready for them because we can see light at the end of the tunnel after what transpired at training,” said Mashaba.
Meanwhile goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says the 3-1 loss South Africa South Africa suffered at the hands of Mauritania is water under the bridge.
In that same match, Khune’s error led to the first goal, but he has grown from it.
“I think that it is goalkepers’ lives to commit errors so you can learn from them. Since I committed that mistake I have grown a lot, and it has built my character. I believe I have improved as a goalkeeper because every game I play I don’t want to
make the same mistake,” says Khune.
The players says with the Mauritania match they are looking at the bigger picture because they know they will not qualify for Gabon.
“All matches for the national team are important to us because as players we need to play our hearts out and make the country proud. Also, this is the prepration for the upcoming 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup qualifiers in October and November so we
can’t take anythig for granted. Our pride is at stake so we have to win not only for us but also in respect of those who have been supporting us, they deserve a great result and perfomance from the team,” added Khune.
The clash against Mauritania takes place on Friday, 2 September 2016 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Kickoff is at 19h05.