Bafana captain fit to travel
Rustenburg - Bafana Bafana will be relieved that captain Steven Pienaar was deemed fit to lead the team to their Group G 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt in Cairo on Sunday.
The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has been troubled by groin and thigh injuries that will require strengthening exercises on his core trunk muscles when he returns to the country next week.
According to the national team's doctor Ephraim Nematswerani, Pienaar's troublesome injuries have “recovered to almost healing” for the crucial match and if next week's prescribed program is not a success, Pienaar will be forced to have an operation.
“Steven arrived yesterday (Sunday) and we're convinced that he was okay after thorough medical inspection,” said Nematswerani.
“He has been receiving treatment and happy that he has responded well, and if next week's planned programme is not a success, then he will need to have surgery.” Pienaar did concede the exercises he is doing to alleviate the injury are troubling him.
“Yes, the injuries have been giving me some problems over last three months, I have decided to put the exercise problem aside until after the Egypt game,” the 28-year-old said.
With forward Thulani Serero having been ruled out last week with a hamstring injury, further good tidings ahead of the clash were on fullbacks Tsepo Masilela and Anele Ngcongca as well as goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands who have been deemed fit from their niggles.
Masilela suffered a hamstring strain in the weekend's practise match against Vodacom League outfit Baroka FC while Ngcongca and Sandilands have been carrying ankle and elbow ailments respectively.
All three players were expected to resume training with the rest of the squad on Monday afternoon while AmaZulu striker Lehlohonolo Majoro was named as Serero's replacement in the travelling party.
“Masilela has been playing the entire 90 minutes of the last seven matches of his club and has fully recovered from the operation that he had in January,” said Nematswerani.
“He unfortunately pulled his left hamstring against Baroka on Saturday. All of those injuries are mild and don't expect anything at all.” National coach Pitso Mosimane now has a full 23-man squad at their training base in Rustenburg and will be working on technical aspects before they depart for the North African country on Thursday morning.
“Last week we put in a lot effort, but with the full squad this week we will do proper technical training,” said Mosimane.
“I believe that we can win. They named an experienced team with five strikers and it shows how they will come at us.”
Mosimane said that he was expecting a tough outing from the hosts who named a formidable team for their mission of beating Bafana at the Military Stadium to remain in the qualifiers.
“They have brought in experience to this team in the likes of Ahmed Ali, the 36-year-old and Mohamad Zidan to show how seriously they are taking this game,” Mosimane said.
“But I think we have a good team with enough experience to go out and bring a result while also keeping a clean sheet.”