Bafana Bafana’s 2018 World Cup qualification hopes rest on consecutive wins against Senegal’s star-studded Lions of Teranga
Former Bafana Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena, has criticised Thulani Serero unreservedly for his insistence on not flying out to represent South Africa in their World Cup Qualifier against
Senegal tonight. The Vitesse Arnhem midfielder isn’t willing to make the trip without receiving assurances about making the starting eleven.
It’s hardly ideal preparation for a team knowing that they must beat Senegal tonight, and then again in four days time, to secure top spot in Group D and a place in the 2018 World Cup Finals. The fixture is having to be replayed because of ‘match manipulation’ by Joseph Lamptey, who was slapped with a lifetime ban by FIFA after awarding South Africa a controversial penalty in the 2-1 win which has consequently been chalked off.
Mamelodi Sundowns duo Percy Tau and Sibusiso Vilakazi, in the absence of Serero, will be the key creative men. Their task will be to break through Senegal’s muscular midfield area which England-based powerhouses Cheikhou Kouyaté and Idrissa Gueye occupy.
It’s a match that South Africa simply must win. Can they do it without a host of key players?
Key Match Stats & Punting Picks
- Star-studded favourites Senegal can be backed at 1.70 to win away from home.
- A 1-1 draw is priced at 3.65 and the 0-0 draw is priced at an equally tempting 4.00 in what is likely to be a low-scoring affair.
- 60% of South Africa’s goals in the qualifiers have come in the first 15 or last 15 minutes of matches.
- South Africa are unbeaten in their last three competitive meetings with Senegal.
- South Africa have only beaten Senegal once in a competitive match.
Team News & Key Men
Thulani Serero, usually a key operator for Bafana, has refused to fly out from Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem as he has not received assurances of playing time. Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, has a facial injury but will play with a protective mask. Overseas-based stars Andile Jali and Keagan Dolly are unlikely to start after long flights, and Bongani Zungu is suspended.
Senegal’s key man, Liverpool forward Sadio Mané, is fit again after a lengthy layoff. If the Lions of Teranga are to reach their first World Cup Finals since 2002, the 25-year-old will be instrumental to that. A fascinating midfield battle is also sure to ensue between Senegal duo Kouyaté and Gueye, and the more technically-minded South African pair Dean Furman and Kamohelo Mokotjo.