15.06.2005 Football News

Wisdom poser for Baxter against Stars

By Raymond Yeboah([email protected])
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Johannesburg - It will require the wisdom of Solomon when Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter ponders over the composition of his line-up for the crunch World Cup qualifying game against Ghana on Saturday.

It dwells on the issue of whether to play Manchester United's Quinton Fortune or former captain Mbulelo "OJ" Mabizela in the pivotal holding role in midfield

Tuesday's intense training session at FNB Stadium provided few answers to the conundrum and sources within the Bafana camp were unanimous only that both Fortune and Mabizela would be in the starting line-up.

Exactly who of the two would occupy the midfield general role and in which position the other would occupy was shrouded in uncertainty and widespread speculation.

Baxter himself was keeping his cards close to the chest and like Brer Rabbit in the famed comic strip "saying nuffin." - having possibly decided to delay finalising the issue until later in the week.

But most of those who were prepared to hazard a guess suggested both Mabizela and Fortune would occupy midfield roles in Baxter's permutations, with Mabizela, a heroic figure in this position during the recent 2-1 win over the Cape Verde Islands, manning the more defensive holding post.

This, in turn, could result in Baxter utilising only one out-and-out striker, but with a host of attacking-minded midfielders like Delron Buckley, Fortune, Benedict Vilakazi and Steven Pienaar providing back-up firepower.

Mabizela, meantime, ended any concern about his delayed presence at the Bafana camp when he arrived at Johannesburg International Airport on Tuesday after playing a league match for his Norwegian club over the weekend.

Denmark-based midfielder Elrio van Heerden now remains the only Bafana absentee and general manager Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala says his case will be taken up with Fifa.

And Bafana are not alone with headaches before Saturday's vital game. AFP reports that top Ghanaian goalkeeper Sammy Adjei has torn a muscle at the squad's training camp in Kenya and will be replaced by Ashanti Gold goalkeeper George Owu.

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