Injuries have threatened to derail Bafana Bafana coach, Molefi Ntseki’s first on-field task in charge, with star midfielder Bongani Zungu the latest to pull out ahead of Sunday’s international friendly.
South Africa – who were inactive in the previous Fifa break – welcome Mali to Port Elizabeth for the Mandela Challenge, in what is their first fixture since Stuart Baxter’s resignation in July.
Bongani Zungu joins growing injury list
Having already replaced two players from his original 23-man squad, Ntseki has now called up Highlands Park defensive midfielder Mothobi Mvala to plug the gap left by the Amiens player, who has been sidelined by a knock picked up in training.
“Mothobi Mvala of Highlands Park has been called up to take the place of the injured Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu,” SAFA confirmed on their official website.
“The Amiens FC star is the third player to be withdrawn from the squad due to injury after both goalkeeper Brandon Petersen and defender Thamsanqa Mkhize were replaced by Ricardo Goss of Bidvest Wits and Tshepo Rikhotso of Bloemfontein Celtic.
“Meanwhile Dean Furman and Ronwen Williams sat out the second day of training yesterday as they are nursing injuries – and were joined on the sidelines by striker Lebo Mothiba. The trio is still under medical observation.”South African Football Association
Zungu’s replacement, Mvala earns his first senior national call-up, following a stellar season where he was among the standout players for the Lions of the North upon securing a return to the top flight.
The 25-year-old was part of South Africa’s Rio 2016 Olympics team, where he featured in two of the three matches played – against Brazil and Iraq.
Despite being used primarily as a defensive midfielder at Highlands Park, he scored eight times in 25 league matches in the 2018/19 season, helping the club to their best finish of seventh place.
Sunday’s match kicks off at 15:00 (SAST).
Bafana squad vs Mali
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (Leuven, Belgium), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Ricardo Goss (Bidvest Wits).
Defenders: Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tshepo Rikhotso (Bloemfontein Celtic), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates).
Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford, England), Thato Mokeke (CT City), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp, France), Mothobi Mvala (Highlands Park), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Thulani Serero (Al Jazira, Abu Dhabi), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France).