Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper Sean Roberts has joined his Bafana Bafana teammates at their training camp in Rustenburg. Roberts arrived at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Complex on Wednesday morning (31 August 2011) as a replacement for the injured Moeneeb Josephs who left camp on Tuesday night along with club mate Tlou Segolela who is also injured. Segolela will not be replaced.
Striker Katlego Mphela limped off the field with a knee injury during the squad’s training session on Wednesday morning, and will be rested in the afternoon while he is being monitored by the medical staff.
“These are tough times for us – the medical team and the technical team. First of all it was not an easy decision to take to release Moeneeb and Tlou, but we had no alternative as we believe they would not have recovered on time for Sunday’s match. With Katlego we are hopeful that it is nothing major, and we will monitor the situation and see how it goes,” said Bafana Bafana team doctor Ephraim Nematswerani.
Meanwhile Bafana Bafana striker Lehlohonolo Majoro Claasen believes the 2012 Africa Cup of Nation clash between South Africa and Niger is perhaps the most important match in the qualifiers. The two countries meet on Sunday, 4 September 2011 in the capital Niamey.
Kickoff is at 15h30 local time in Niger (16h30 South African time).
Majoro has two caps to his name after coming on as a substitute twice in the two international friendly matches against Tanzania in May, and Burkina Faso earlier this month.
“This is by far the most important match for us because Niger is breathing down our necks in second place in our group, and we know that a win will surely help us qualify for the 2012 Afcon tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. At the moment we are two points ahead of them, but we need to open up a bigger gap to ease the pressure and make life easy for ourselves. The good thing about this group of players is that every player called up here is ready to fight for their country, and if an opportunity comes for me to be in the starting line-up I have to grab it with both arms,” said Majoro.
Another young player itching for action is 21-year old Belgium-based Daylon Claasen. He has already been capped two times for Bafana Bafana. He made his debut in the friendly international match against the USA in Cape Town last year, but his full debut came earlier this month in the friendly against Burkina Faso at the Ellis Park Stadium where he played like a seasoned player.
“I believe that was a step-up for me, and that match really gave me confidence but I can’t get ahead of myself and say I have arrived. I still have a lot to learn and know that I still improve on my game. As for the clash against Niger all the players are aware of the importance of this outing. We have one thing in mind only – and that is winning. As one of the young players in the team I have nerves, but I believe even the experienced could be feeling the same because this is a very big match for us, at the same time we don’t feel any pressure. We know what we need to do,” said Claasen.