Pretoria – Bloemfontein Celtic defender Mulomowandau Mathoho has been withdrawn from the South African under-23 squad to face Benin in the 2012 London Olympic Games qualifier due to a groin injury.
Mathoho sustained the injury in the first leg of the 2012 London Olympic Games qualifier in Benin a fortnight ago.
He has been undergoing treatment in camp and is expected to recover before the crucial second leg clash, which will be played at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday. Kick-off is 3pm.
Amaglug-glug head coach Shakes Mashaba said Mathoho will not be replaced.
If Amaglug-glug want to appear in the 2012 London Olympic Games, they need to win on Sunday since they lost 3-1 in the first leg.
AmaZulu goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo is in the treatment room with a swollen left hand after sustaining the injury at training this week. He is being monitored by the squad’s medical team.
However, the good news for Mashaba is that Phumelele “Ace” Bhengu is now available for the South African squad.
The striker was not selected for the Olympic qualifier as he was doing duty for his team, Bay United, in the National First Division promotional play-offs.
He has now accumulated three yellow cards in the competition, which rules him out of the second leg of the play-offs against Black Leopards on Saturday at the Tshifulanani stadium near Thohoyandou.
Bhengu was scheduled to be at the national team’s camp on Thursday.
“When one door closes, the other opens. It’s obviously a setback that we had to lose Mathoho due to injury so close to the match, as he is an integral member of the team, but then again injuries are part and parcel of the game.
“We will miss him without doubt, but we have other players to call upon to plug the gap left open by him. I wish him a speedy recovery. On the other hand we have increased our firepower upfront with the availability of Ace, and this comes at a time when we really need goals to overturn the first leg defeat.
“So I am happy that we will have his experience upfront which will help us a great deal in our quest to qualify for the last round. He also comes here with a lot of confidence as he has been doing well in the play-offs,” he said.
The South Africans will have their last training session at the Royal Marang Sports Complex in the North West province today.
On Saturday, the home team will train at the match venue, the Rand Stadium at 9:30. Benin is expected to arrive in South Africa today.
Entry to the match is free, but fans will have to acquire tickets to gain access to the stadium.
Tickets will be available on a first come first served basis at the South African Football Association (Safa) House today at mid-day until 6pm on Saturday.
Tickets can also be collected at the Wembley Indoor Centre next to Rand Stadium at 1pm today. – BuaNews