Bartlett In, McCarthy Out
South Africa are hoping Charlton Athletic striker Shaun Bartlett recovers from injury in time to replace Benni McCarthy in leading the attack in next week's World Cup qualifier against Ghana.
McCarthy picked up a second caution of the qualifying campaign after scoring in the 2-1 win over the Cape Verde Islands in Saturday's African Zone Group Two match in Praia and is suspended for the top of the table clash against the Ghanaians in Johannesburg on June 18.
Stuart Baxter, South African coach said McCarthy's absence could not have come at a worse time but that he was hoping Bartlett would recover from the injury picked up in Charlton's last league game of the English premier league season last month.
Bartlett might be asked to prove his fitness in a testimonial match in Durban this week for former South African captain Lucas Radebe. Victory for South Africa in the qualifier would put them on the cusp of qualifying for next year's World Cup finals in Germany.
South Africa, who are to host the World Cup finals in 2010, lead the group by three points from Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. -Stuart Baxter, the Bafana Bafana coach, is all smiles now that he is faced with a change for the better. Most of his overseas-based players will be in South Africa long before next weekend's World Cup qualifier against Ghana. Some will even have some game time before that. The majority of the players who did duty against Cape Verde last weekend, will play in Lucas Radebe's benefit match in Durban on Saturday.
Only eight players appeared at the first training session, for which it had to be canceled, clearly playing on Baxter's nerves. Next week, though, promises to be a different story. Baxter will have an opportunity to give his players a run in Radebe's testimonial match in Durban on Saturday with the training camp starting on Sunday. "I won't be jumping up and down and I don't think people are going to be crash tackled. It's a low key game and there will be a lot of changes," said Baxter.
South Africa are three points clear of Ghana and the DRC and need at least another six points to secure their place in next year's World Cup in Germany. Anything less, and last year's results, losing to Ghana and the DRC, could come back to haunt them. "We have three games to play and we have two games against those teams. We have to make sure that we don't bring goal difference into play," added Baxter.
The team to play Ghana will be announced tomorrow