South Africa head coach Joel Santana got the best possible news on Sunday, when his three injured stars - Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise and Tsepo Masilela - were all fit to train.
Both Orlando Pirates midfield star Modise and Israel-based
left-back Masilela did not play in Bafana's 1-0 win over Poland in their final
warm-up friendly at Orlando Stadium on Saturday ahead of the Confederations Cup,
which kicks off on Sunday.
Bafana face Iraq in the opening Group A clash at Ellis Park in a match that is being considered the key to advancing past the
Pienaar limped off midway through the second half of the
victory over Poland with a swollen ankle, causing worry in the camp, but Bafana
manager Sipho Nkumane revealed on Sunday that all three players would be
reporting fit for training this morning.
"I have just seen Steven and there is no
problem," said Nkumane. "He twisted his ankle against Poland but
fortunately it is not serious and that is tremendous news for the squad."
Nkumane confirmed that Santana had left both Modise and
Masilela out of the line-up against Poland as a precaution.
"Both suffered niggling injuries last week," he said. "It was
decided with our opening match in the Confederations Cup against Iraq on Sunday
there was no point in taking risks. Both Masilela and Modise will be back in
full training on Monday. So it is all good news from the camp."
Nkumane also heaped praise on sports psychologist Henning
Gericke, who worked with the players before the match against Poland.
"Gericke is amazing," he said. "After he
spoke with the players on Friday night, there was a new self belief in them and
it showed in the way we played and beat a top ranked side like Poland [39th in the world]. The win
over Poland has really put the cherry on top and
confidence is soaring. Now we are ready to go out and beat Iraq and set up a
winning platform for our Confederations Cup campaign."
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com