Bafana kneed by new injury

30 June 2017 - 08:23
Bafana Bafana winger Aubrey Ngoma. File photo.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Bafana Bafana winger Aubrey Ngoma. File photo.

South Africa's hopes in the Cosafa Cup were handed a blow yesterday after Aubrey Ngoma was ruled out of the tournament with a knee ligament injury.

It leaves coach Stuart Baxter scratching his head about a possible replacement for arguably his best player.

"It's an injury he has carried through the season, an old injury that has now torn. He has had a scan and the doctor told me he could be out for a while," Baxter said yesterday.

Lehlogonolo Masalesa has an ankle injury, but was named captain.

The player said he was confident he would be ready when South Africa play their first game in the competition at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday afternoon.

The Greece-based midfielder, who is likely to be a free agent on Saturday when his contract at Larissa comes to an end, said the squad was a "good crop of players".

"We have a very interesting group who want to go as far as possible in the tournament.

"My own idea is to improve as a player and learn from a coach like Stuart Baxter," he said at yesterday's press conference, at which point Baxter interrupted him to announce that Masalesa would skipper the team.

"Vieria's comments have earned him the captaincy," he joked.

"No seriously, we had decided he would be skipper before those comments.

"He's achieving overseas, he's a personality and a player whose quality can be seen on the field. He's got the right presence to be a captain," said Baxter.

"When I was at Chiefs, he was a player that I wanted to sign."

Masalesa, 25, responded: "That's a lot for me to digest so I don't want to make an irrational answer.

"It's a shock because I believe there are several leaders in this squad. It's a big honour I plan to take in my stride.

"I'm going to give my mom a call now to tell her she better be watching on Sunday.

"I feel I have come a long way in the past six months in Greece.

"A lot happened in my time at Pirates that I don't want to talk about and no one expected me to make the move overseas. But even though I arrived there in winter and with a difficult language and food, I concentrated on my football.

"Now I want to make the best of this opportunity," the new captain added.

South Africa are defending champions in the Cosafa Cup and make a belated entry at quarterfinal stage, in which they take on Group A's winners. That will be settled on Thursday night, when Angola play Malawi and Tanzania take on Mauritius in the last of the first-round group games.

- TimesLIVE