Maela drops out while Zungu’s selected to start for Bafana Bafana

Based on a statement from the South African Football Association on Sunday, there will be at least two changes to the team

Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana defender Innocent Maela is expected to be ruled out of Monday’s 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sao Tome and Principe at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium through injury.

This is according to a statement on the South African Football Association’s website.

“Of the travelling team, only Innocent Maela sat out training on Sunday, 15 November 2020 suffering from a slight knock he received in the Durban match on Friday and is likely to sit out on this encounter.”

Maela started and completed Friday night’s match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where Bafana ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a penalty from Percy Tau and a late goal by substitute Bongani Zungu.

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The Safa statement also revealed who could replace Maela at left-back, as well as announcing that the Scotland-based Zungu will play from the start:

“Lyle Lakay is expected to be drafted in his place while Zungu who had a blinder of a game soon after coming on during Friday’s match, is set to earn a starting berth.”

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Zungu came off the bench on Friday in Durban and injected intensity into the attack before capping off an excellent performance with a 90th minute headed goal.

His presence could perhaps come at the expense of Lebogang Manyama, in what would be a like-for-like swap. There are several others though, including Themba Zwane, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Keagan Dolly who could potentially make way; Tau and Dean Furman would surely be guaranteed starters after impressing on Friday.

Mamelodi Sundowns left-back Lakay will offer Bafana plenty in an attacking sense down the left flank.

The Cape Town-born Lakay has actually played a large portion of his career as a left-winger.

He’s been in sparkling form for the Brazilians at full-back though and will be keen to bomb forward on every possible occasion in Port Elizabeth.

Zungu meanwhile will add thrust and invention from midfield to the Bafana attack and should ensure that South Africa are more proactive than they were in the first half in Durban last Friday, when not a single effort was on target.

Monday’s match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium kicks off at 3 pm.

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