Bongani Zungu in action. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM
Bongani Zungu in action. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

Glasgow Rangers midfielder Bongani Zungu will join Bafana Bafana for their second Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Sudan in Khartoum on Sunday‚ national team doctor Thulani Ngwenya has confirmed.

Negotiations with Rangers have seen the services of the key midfielder secured for Bafana’s second big Cameroon 2021 qualifier. He was unable to travel to SA for Thursday’s match against Ghana at FNB Stadium.

Ngwenya said negotiations are under way with the French authorities to secure Montpellier winger Keagan Dolly for the game in Khartoum.

The flurry of talks to obtain the release of overseas-based players comes after a Fifa Covid-19 circular stated that clubs are not expected to release players if there is a “mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days upon arrival”. That directive led to national squads across the continent being considerably weakened for the final two rounds of the Afcon qualifiers.

“Zungu is confirmed. He’ll be joining us in Sudan. With Dolly we’re still hoping and there are still negotiations happening‚” Ngwenya said. “But then Thulani [Serero] and Dean [Furman] it’s confirmed — they are not coming.”

Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has managed to secure the services of five of the nine overseas-based players named in his initial squad for the Ghana match. These are Brighton forward Percy Tau, Portugal-based Thibang Phete‚ Lyle Foster and Luther Singh, and Israel-based Siyanda Xulu.

Ngwenya had said at Bafana’s arrival media conference on Monday that talks were continuing for Zungu and Dolly to join the SA squad for their final qualifier in Sudan. The talks on Zungu were at a more advanced stage and he expected a response by “close of business” on Monday.

Ngwenya said on Tuesday that Rangers had initially agreed to Zungu travelling to Sudan because that country is not a Covid-19 hotspot. However‚ it was then not possible to arrange flights for the player, Bafana’s star performer at the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt, via a connection that was not a hotspot.

In the end, Rangers and Zungu had to agree to the player going into quarantine for 10 to 14 days on his return to Scotland.

In Dolly’s case‚ the Bafana team management are negotiating with the French authorities to reduce the quarantine time to less than 14 days when he returns to Montpellier. Tuesday was the final day of negotiations, Ngwenya said.

Bafana are in second place on goal difference in Group C‚ level on nine points with Ghana. They can take a significant step towards the 2021 Nations Cup — rescheduled to January and February 2022 due to Covid-19 — if they beat the Black Stars at FNB on Thursday (kickoff at 6pm).

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