South Africa will sweat on the fitness of Thulani Serero ahead of Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations final qualifying match against Nigeria in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The Ajax Amsterdam midfielder, 24, who was voted Man of the Match in Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Sudan, sat out Bafana Bafana’s training session at the Nike Football Centre in Pimville, Soweto, on Monday morning. He is believed to be nursing a hamstring injury.
But striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who missed Saturday’s vital/emotional victory in Durban, trained fully with the squad and is available for selection.
Head coach Shakes Mashaba is expected to ring few changes to his squad for their 11th meeting with the Super Eagles at full international level.
“Yes there will be one or two changes to the playing personnel but we don’t want to break the rhythm of the team because they are doing very well,” Mashaba said.
Mashaba’s men are already through to Afcon 2015 finals in Equatorial Guinea, and have also won the group as they sit in pole position with 11 unassailable points. Victory is of utmost importance for second-placed Nigeria, tied on seven points each with Congo, who face a trip to bottom-placed Sudan on the final qualification Match Day.
The Group A leaders touched down at the Uyo International Airport on Monday evening and will have one last training session before Wednesday’s cracker.
South Africa’s only victory over the reigning African champions came in 2004 at the Nelson Mandella Challenge Cup. They have drawn two of this fixture- the latest being the stalemate at the Cape Town Stadium on September 10.
The one-time African champions are yet to lose in the final qualifying tournament for Afcon 2015, with two away wins, two home draws and one win at home. They have scored seven goals and conceded only once- Salah Ibrahim’s 74th-minute consolation for Sudan at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
However, coach Mashaba insists they would like to maintain their unbeaten record.
“Nigerians don’t want to lose against South Africa, that alone will make this match a tough one and we also have the assignment to break the hoodoo that we always lose when we play against them. We have to go out there positive and believe we will do well,” Mashaba said.
“I will be even happier if we score some goals in Nigeria and that will give us the dignity we deserve. Winning three away games will definitely give us the respect we deserve as a nation. Once we beat Nigeria, the reigning African champions, it will bring confidence to the whole squad and to the country and also finish the qualifiers without a defeat.”