Mphela injury blow for Bafana?
Johannesburg - The Bafana Bafana set up are crossing their fingers that they will not be dealt another injury blow - a crucial one at that - with striker Katlego Mphela limping out of training with a knee injury on Wednesday morning.
Mphela, Bafana's third highest scorer of all time, is an integral part of the team ahead of their Group G 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers penultimate match against Niger in Niamey on Sunday - a match that could see the South Africans secure qualification for the Equatorial Guinea and Gabon tournament next January.
"Mphela will undergo further assessments, he only limped off this morning and further updates will follow," said doctor Ephraim Nematswerani.
"It's with his right knee injury, and we are crossing our fingers because we can’t afford any more injuries.
"We should know later today (Wednesday) if he will be okay but as precaution we informed the coaches that he should not undertake afternoon training and even tomorrow.
"We are very thin already and can’t afford to lose any more players."
On Tuesday evening, winger Tlou Segolela (knee) and goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs (shoulder) were deemed not fit enough to continue camp and withdrawn from the squad, with Ajax Cape Town's Sean Roberts the inclusion for Josephs.
Roberts answered the urgent call from coach Pitso Mosimane who wants another understudy for Itumeleng Khune and Wayne Sandilands, and has already reported for the camp in Rustenburg.
Midfielders, Teko Modise and Oupa Manyisa were linked with the team on Sunday after weekend club duties with ankle ailments but were deemed fit to continue.
Ahead of naming his initial 24-man squad for the expected hostile conditions in the West African state, Mosimane was set to be without a number of his experienced core players because of an assortment of injuries.
Out of selection contention were captain Steven Pienaar, strongman Kagiso Dikgacoi, languid striker Davide Somma and busy midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane.
This means that the junior members of the team, midfielder Daylon Claasen and striker Lehlohonolo Majoro will have to step up if called upon to do duty against the Nigeriens.
If Bafana beats their hosts - who have not lost in the qualifying campaign at home - and Sierra Leone draws or loses to Egypt on the same weekend, then South Africa secures a spot in the tournament.
Despite the camp injury concerns, Majoro believes that Bafana should get to Niamey with a battle-ready mentality.
"I believe we need to go there with a winning mentality, so we can ease pressure of them coming behind us in terms of points," he said.
"Each and every player called for camp shows that they are ready mentally and physically, so if given the chance I will give the best for my country."
Claasen showed some good touches when he finally earned his first national cap in last month's friendly against Burkina Faso.
I have been in the set up for some time, like Majoro also, so there is nothing new for us," Claasen said.
"There are a lot of people behind us and the coach believes in us, so we should believe in ourselves."
Bafana depart for Niger on Friday.