Bafana goal keeper join the injury victims
Bafana Bafana's preparations for the crucial World Cup/Nations Cup qualifier against Ghana on June 18 were dealt a severe blow on Saturday as first-choice goalkeeper Hans Vonk was ruled out with injury. "These kind of setbacks are meant to test us," said Bafana coach Stuart Baxter while releasing the grim news.
"The medical reports from Holland indicate there is little purpose in bringing out Vonk from Holland in these circumstances.
"Hopefully," added the Bafana coach, "it will only galvanise the remaining players to make a supreme effort. But with Hans's withdrawal, we now have to face Ghana with five potential first-choice players missing."
Apart from the inscrutable, invariably ice-cool Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper, Bafana will also be without right-back Cyril Nzama, left-back Bradley Carnell and midfielder Sibusiso Zuma, who are injured, as well as suspended goal-poacher Benni McCarthy.
Baxter has called up Kaizer Chiefs' Rowen Fernandez to replace Vonk, with SuperSport's Calvin Marlin now the probable first-choice goalkeeper against Ghana's Black Stars.
And Baxter has also informed experienced former Bafana goalkeepers Andre Arendse and Brian Baloyi to remain on stand-bye in case of further mishaps.
But it was not all bad news for Bafana. Top goalscorer Shaun Bartlett and Manchester United utility player Quinton Fortune, who both missed South Africa's 2-1 win over the Cape Verde Islands last week, have told Baxter they expect to be fit for the Ghana game.
"Now it's a matter of holding thumbs and hoping nothing else goes wrong," said the Bafana coach.