Strike force feels brunt

ROPED IN: SA Under 23s' calvin Kadi. Pic. Lefty Shivambu. 28/08/06. © Touchline.
ROPED IN: SA Under 23s' calvin Kadi. Pic. Lefty Shivambu. 28/08/06. © Touchline.

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Steve Komphela, the national under-23 team coach, will have to do without some of his key players when they take on Ghana in a crunch 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifier in Accra on Sunday.

Komphela will be without forwards Lerato Chabangu of Mamelodi Sundowns, Lebohang Mokoena of Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars' Bradley Grobler who are injured.

Midfielder Mkhanyiseli Siwahla of Ajax Cape Town is also out injured.

Rising Pretoria University forward George Maluleke is not travelling because he is writing his examinations.

The match, which is billed for El Wak Stadium, is a must-win for South Africa and Komphela should be worried by the injuries.

Kickoff is at 3pm (5pm South African time).

Barney Kujane, the project manager of the U-23s, said they had roped in Calvin Kadi of SuperSport United, Bucs' Excellent Walaza, as well as debutants Sehloho Nale and Musa Bilankulu, who are both from Lamontville Golden Arrows.

Komphela now has a 24-member provisional squad and was expected to trim it to 20 by late yesterday.

They leave for Accra today.

"We really needed these players for Sunday's game because we expect an uphill battle in Ghana," said Kujane yesterday.

"We played our two Olympic qualifiers with some players recovering from injuries, especially at the back. We hoped to get all the selected players for this important match this time round but now this," he told Sowetan.

While Kujane and the technical staff under Komphela are still convinced that they can succeed in the campaign, many pundits believe their chances of going to Beijing are between nil and nothing.

The South Africans are propping up the log in the three-team group with one point from a possible six. Nigeria are top with four points and Ghana are second with three.

But it will be foolhardy of Ghana to underestimate SA.