Bafana to face Burkina Faso without Dikgacoi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana central and defensive midfielder, Kagisho Dikgacoi, will miss tonight's international friendly against Burkina Faso at Coca-Cola Park stadium in Johannesburg.

Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane acknowledged that he will not have Dikgacoi in his team after the Crystal Palace player could not resolve his work permit and visa challenges on time.

"We have to accept he will not be here. It's one thing that is beyond his control, my control or anyone's control for that matter. It would have been great to have him in this squad, but we have to go out there and play the match knowing he is not here," he said.

The home team has completed their preparations ahead of the international friendly, which will kick-off at 8:15pm.

Bafana have been hit by injuries in their build-up to the match, as both Reneilwe Letsholonyane and regular captain Steven Pienaar have been forced to withdraw from the squad. Siphiwe Tshabalala will wear the captain's armband in Pienaar's absence.

However, for this match, they will be wearing their new Puma kit and they will also welcome the return of no nonsense defender Bongani Khumalo, Thulani Serero and Thanduyise Khuboni who missed Bafana's last match against Egypt in Cairo.

Khumalo said while it is good for him to return to the national team, they need to get good results to improve their FIFA World rankings.

"I was out injured and the players who played in the last match did a magnificent job, so I don't expect to walk into the team but know that I need to work my way back. I am part of a squad and if I don't get to play, I will support the other guys. We all need to earn our places in the team," he said.

Serero said: "It's a tough game for us, and also very important as we are preparing for Niger. Given a chance, yes I would love to play but I will leave that to the coach. We have studied our opponents and we know what to expect, so we are ready."

Khuboni said if Bafana can play their normal game and not rush things or panic, they will be able to get positive results. "I have put in a lot of work since my injury and I am confident that I am back to my fitness."

This will be South Africa's preparation for next month's crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier away in Niger.

When Mosimane named his squad last week, he made it clear that he is using the match against The Stallions as a key preparation for Niger and a chance to rise up the FIFA World Rankings.

Burkina Faso is ranked 39th in the world and 4th in the CAF zone, while South Africa is 49th and 7th in the respective categories.

Defeating the West Africans would help boost Bafana Bafana's ranking, which could be crucial when the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations finals is made, assuming Mosimane's team qualify.

This will be the first friendly meeting between South Africa and Burkina Faso. The sides have met in five previous competitive fixtures; one Afcon finals group match in 2002 and four World Cup qualifiers for the 2002 and 2006 editions.

Bafana have two wins to The Stallions' one, with the teams' last meeting resulting in a 3-1 win for the West Africans in Ouagadougou in September 2005.

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