Bafana Bafana must avoid defeat when they travel to Khartoum to face Sudan in their final Afcon 2022 qualifier.
And the national team must do it without the services of the now injured Andile Jali and Scotland-based Bongani Zungu.
Jali was forced off during Bafana Bafana’s 1-1 draw against Ghana while Zungu has now been withdrawn from the squad after his club refused to let him travel to Sudan.
“On Wednesday, we got an email from Zungu’s club to say they are no longer releasing him – whether it’s coming to South Africa or going to Sudan,” said head coach Molefi Ntseki.
“I then spoke to him and explained the situation, and he said, ‘It’s a decision that will work against me if ever I force to come to Sudan.’ We saw a new list of countries that are being referred to as ‘red zones’, and in this case we have Dubai and Ethiopia, which is where players were going to have to come via to get to Sudan.”
Bafana were sub-standard against Ghana, who fielded a largely inexperienced lineup which was devoid of their best players.
On Sunday, Bafana will need to be far more clinical and hope that Themba Zwane, profilic in the domestic league, can turn in a much-improved performance. At the back, coach Ntseki will be having a strong word with Siyanda Xulu, who was lucky to avoid a red card on a number of occassions.
Percy Tau’s fitness is just another concern for the national team after he suffered a first half knock. The Brighton player managed to shake that off and earn his side a draw but observers could tell he was struggling to run off the incident as the second half wore on.
Ntseki is expecting a fast-paced encounter as Sudan must win to eliminate Bafana Bafana for a place in the continental showpiece.
“In football, there’s something very interesting, if you look we had more possession, very good opportunities but unfortunately we ended up with a draw and I think going to Sudan it’s for them to lose,” he said.
“Because they will be coming at us and we already have a plan for that, they have to play to win, a draw is not going to help them. So in this case they will have to come at us and coming to us we have very good players who can play on a transition and get us a win.”