Bafana's Khumalo ruled out
Bongani Khumalo (File)
Johannesburg - SuperSport United captain and Bafana Bafana central defender, Bongani Khumalo, has been ruled out of the friendly international against Ghana at Soccer City on August 11 due to injury.
This was revealed on Tuesday by United coach Gavin Hunt, who said the tough tackling central defender injured his ankle ligaments and would be out of action for at least two weeks.
The injury is a blow to the 23-year-old Khumalo’s hopes of getting a contract with English Premiership club Tottenham Hotspur, or with Scottish champions Glasgow Rangers.
Khumalo was one of the emerging stars for Bafana at the recent World Cup finals where his gutsy and intelligent play attracted the attention of both Rangers and Spurs.
Rangers manager Walter Smith, said he was keen to sign both Khumalo and his international teammate, striker Katlego Mphela, who plays for Mamelodi Sundowns.
Mphela has also been a target of former Rangers manager Alex McLeish who is now in charge of English Premiership outfit Birmingham City.
Hunt had no option but to rule out his skipper for Sunday’s night African Confederations Cup third round, second leg showdown against FUS in the Moroccan capital Rabat.
The South African champions won the first leg played at the Super Stadium nearly two weeks ago 2-1.
Hunt has also told his 23-yer-old captain he will not be playing for Bafana against Ghana in a friendly international in preparation for Bafana’s first 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier against Niger at home in September.
Explained Hunt: “I need to get Khumalo fit for the Absa Premiership season which kicks off at the end of August when we play BidVest Wits away.
"I hope to have him ready for that clash (at Milpark on August 28) but there is no chance he will travel with the squad to Rabat or be ready to play for Bafana against Ghana.”
Hunt is also in the dark about Khumalo’s trials with Spurs and Rangers.
"As United's coach I am the last to know about player movements. It is not an ideal situation reading in the newspapers where my players are intending to play in the coming season.
"The game is now all about agents, but at this stage he is still contracted to United.”
Khumalo will have to wait at least a couple of weeks fo his injury to heal before he decides on his future.
Hunt has more pressing problems ahead of his trip to North Africa. He will travel with a squad of 13 players and will be without a back-up goalkeeper.
He will again field third choice keeper Jacob Mokhasi as his only other registered keeper with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for this tournament, Emille Baron, is still recovering from a serious injury sustained on camp in Brazil with Bafana during March.
Hunt recently transferred his other keeper, Denis Onyango, to Mpumalanga Black Aces.
“The bottom line is I have only one keeper registered with Caf.”
Apart from Khumalo, Hunt travels to Morocco minus his experienced striker Glen Salmon, who broke down again with the same knee injury that sidelined him at the end of last season.
Due to Caf rules he is unable to sign replacements for Onyango or for other players who have left the club in the off-season.
“If I had my full squad I would have murdered FUS home or away, but we go to Rabat on a wing and prayer. We’ll do our best with 13 players.”
Hunt has signed Bury goalkeeper Wayne Brown who has played over 500 times for English League Two side Bury.
“There are no top keepers available in South Africa. If there are, please send them to me. That is why I had to go to England."
Brown is 33 and the right age for a mature goalkeeper. He will be an asset to us.
But like (defender/midfielder) Bradley Carnell and striker Kermit Erasmus who I have also signed, I cannot use them against FUS due to Caf’s out of date registration rulings.”