Stuart Baxter, the Bafana Bafana coach, has sent a stern warning to Ghana saying they are in for a big surprise at the weekend. The two countries meet in a crucial joint World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifier at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
It is not just about the three points at stake this weekend, it is much more than that. Bafana Bafana are just three points clear of Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in group two have a score to settle. Last year they were thrashed 3-0 in Kumasi.
Baxter says they want to make sure that Ghana knows in every way that things have changed since then, and the new order means that when you come to our place you are very prepared to chase the ball. Striker Shaun Bartlett returns to the squad after he was forced to miss the Cape Verde match due to injury.
McCarthy suspended With Benni McCarthy suspended, it is up to Bartlett, the Charlton Athletic marksman, to get Bafana Bafana on the sc! ore sheet. Bartlett says it has always been his responsibility even when Benni plays next to him. "I take pride and honour in playing every game for my country and will just make sure that I can get a goal again."
Baxter again has not had a full squad to work with, but the problem does not seem as serious as a fortnight ago. Benedict Vilakazi broke down in training with a cough, while Delron Buckley, Quinton Fortune, Elrio van Heerden and Mbulelo Mabizela should all be in camp by tomorrow.Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter looked noticeably relieved on Monday to find Manchester United's Quinton Fortune waiting in Johannesburg as the bulk of the South African squad to face Ghana in the World Cup qualifying game at FNB Stadium arrived after participating in Lucas Radebe's testimonial in Durban.
Fortune had initially been due to participate in the Durban extravaganza to gauge his fitness after a minor leg operation.
Instead he plumped to travel to Johannesburg where he reported "fit and raring to go" for Saturday's game.
"But it would not have been a Bafana camp if there were not a couple of niggling pre-match problems," said Bafana general manager Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala - and, true to tradition, they arose in the form and shape of the non-appearance of Mbulelo "OJ" Mabizela and Elrio van Heerden from the 20-man squad.
"Mabizela's absence should not cause any great concern," added the Bafana general manager. "His Norwegian team were involved in a league match over the weekend and he made it clear he will be back in South Africa on Tuesday."
Van Heerden's situation, however, could prove more complicated, with Danish club FC Copenhagen involved in matches on Wednesday and over the weekend and apparently intent on holding onto the Bafana midfielder for as long as possible.
"But Fifa rules regarding the release of players for World Cup fixtures have to be obeyed," said Tshabalala, "and we're not going to take this matter lying down."
The Bafana general manager also revealed that Calvin Marlin and Rowen Fernandez were in harness following the withdrawal because of a recurring back injury of number one goalkeeper Hans Vonk.
Bafana had a full-scale and enthusiastic training session at FNB Stadium on Monday - the setting of the showdown against Ghana's Black Stars.
Stuart Baxter, the Bafana Bafana coach, is experiencing his usual withdrawal crisis ahead of the crucial World cup and African Nations Cup qualifier against Ghana this weekend.
However, Baxter believes that Ghana is in for a big surprise, despite the fact that Hans Vonk, seasoned goalkeeper, has withdrawn from the team. Vonk sustained a back injury while the team was preparing for Cape Verde match a forth night ago. Rowan Fernandez, the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper, might be a perfect replacement for Vonk, though SuperSport United's number one Calvin Marlin is also available.
Baxter will be without five experienced players. Bradley Carnell, Sibusiso Zuma, Vonk and Cyril Nzama are injured and Benni McCarthy are suspended. Siyabonga Nomvete, who played his heart out at the weekend during the Lucas Radebe's testimonial game, has been roped in and Baxter is happy to have him back.
SA players are motivated Shaun Bartlett has fully recovered from his! ankle injury. He missed the Cape Verde game, and is determined to do his best and hopefully score a goal. Delron Buckley and Quinton Fortune only arrived this afternoon. Mbulelo Mabizela and Elrio van Heerden will arrive in the country tomorrow.
Baxter says his boys are motivated and are looking forward to the game. Baxter has called on all South Africans to rally behind the team for this crucial qualifier. South Africa top Group Two with 15 points just three ahead of Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At stake are not just three points, but revenge for last year's humiliation in Kumasi, where Ghana walloped them 3-0.