South Africa head coach Ephraim Mashaba will be without defender Tsepo Masilela for his side’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania on Saturday, after the Kaizer Chiefs player failed to report for national team duty.
Masilela had been struggling with a knee injury, but after his non-arrival, the South African Football Association (SAFA) responded to the media enquiries saying it would give the situation “the urgent attention it deserves”.
Mashaba will run a fitness test on Ajax defender Thulani Serero ahead of the game, which should pose his side few problems as they seek maximum points in their Group M campaign.
South Africa midfielder Mandla Masango, who plays for Randers FC in the Danish Superligaen, insisted nothing was being taken for granted in preparations to face Mauritania, who restricted Cameroon to a one-goal winning margin in their opening game of the group.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough encounter because Mauritania are an unknown nation to us, we haven’t played them before.
“We are well aware of how they played against Cameroon in their opening qualifier so we cannot afford to take things for granted, we should go there and give it our all.”
Mauritania coach Corentin Martins refused to rule out the possibility of his side causing a huge upset, despite the odds being stacked heavily in South Africa’s favour.
“If we compare ourselves to the experience of other nations‚ then I’m tempted to say it’s mission impossible for us to qualify for the next African Nations Cup finals,” he said.
“But we refuse to be defeatist. We are asking our players to go out there and win.”