Injured Mokoena determined for World Cup
Designated Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena says he will play in the World Cup by hook-or-by-crook — despite being nursed gingerly by Portsmouth for their FA Cup Final showdown against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on May 15 because of a lingering groin injury.
The Bafana captain may not be the most popular player in South Africa — a horde of viewers on the Kick Off magazine web site hailed Mokoena’s injury a blessing in disguise — in spite of his record 92 caps.
But Mokoena is being hailed as a hero by Portsmouth after a sterling performance in the shock semi-final victory over Tottenham that earned the cash-strapped, relegated club a place in the FA Cup Final.
And Mokoena told The News publication in England that he would happily play in all Portsmouth’s remaining three League games, the FA Cup Final and all Bafana’s fixtures in the World Cup if he had his way.
The Bafana captain believes the best way to contain or rid himself of his injury is to “play as much as possible” — and that is what he would like to do.
But what must be a delicate problem for Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is that while Mokoena plays most of his games for Portsmouth as a holding midfielder, his role at international level has invariably been as a central defender.
What is more, Mokoena is one of the players earmarked for the World Cup by Parreira who have not attended either of Bafana’s preparation camps in Brazil and Germany as a result of his club commitments.
And Parreira will face the tricky problem of initially building a shadow World Cup line-up on the basis of the camps in Brazil and Germany — and then having to dismantle it to a greater or lesser degree to include players of the calibre of Steven Pienaar and probably Mokoena and others as well.
But, for all this, the uncompromising South African captain knows just where he is going — and that is in the direction of Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup Final and then back to South Africa to link up with Bafana for the World Cup.