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Football | Bafana Bafana

Tsepo Masilela © Backpagepix

Igesund ponders backline conundrum



Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says it would be easier to manage the national football team's growing list of casualties if they were spread around the field.

Defenders Siboniso Gaxa (hamstring) and Tsepo Masilela (knee), and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi (calf muscle), were all ruled out this week ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Three other defenders – Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Sangweni and Thabo Matlaba – had all been unavailable due to injuries when Igesund named his squad earlier this month, and the coach was left facing a conundrum in his team's defence.

“Obviously it's very disappointing to have so many injuries, but what's more disappointing is that they are all in the same area," Igesund said on Wednesday.

“Going to our match against Central African Republic (CAR), I'm going to have a completely new backline."

Igesund called up Siyanda Xulu, who is returning from injury, and Ricardo Nunes as backline cover.

He did not feel, however, that the injury to Dikgacoi was as serious, as Bafana had enough cover in the midfield.

“I haven't called up a replacement for KG because I've got enough players in those areas to do the job,” he said.

Igesund said the team's first-choice defenders had proved their worth in the home qualifier against CAR in Cape Town in March, with Bafana securing a 2-0 victory.

“The backline before [the injuries], was starting to gel very nicely and were well organised. We kept a clean sheet against CAR."

He nonetheless remained confident that they had enough quality in defence to stand firm in their three upcoming international matches.

Bafana face Lesotho in Maseru on Sunday, before they square up against Central African Republic, in neutral territory in Cameroon, and Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, in crucial 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

“I'm very confident in the players I've called on and I'm sure we will give a good account of ourselves," Igesund said.

“When one door closes, it's an opportunity for another [player].

“In these difficult times I know the players will rise to the occasion.”

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