By FOCUS REPORTER
BLOEMFONTEIN Celtic defender Eric Mathoho has been withdrawn from the South African
Under 23 squad 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 was expected to recover before the
crucial second leg clash which will be played at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg
on Sunday at 3pm.
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.
But the good news for South Africa’s head coach Shakes 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 club, 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, 18 June 2011. Bhengu is expected in
the South African Under 23 squad camp on Thursday (16 June 2011) evening.
“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,” said Mashaba.
There are now 22 players in camp with the arrival of Bhengu.
The South Africans will have their last training session at the Royal Marang Sports
Complex on Friday (17 June 2011) morning. On Saturday, 18 June 2011 they will train
at the match venue, the Rand Stadium starting at 09h30.
Benin is expected to arrive in the country 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