Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES

Bafana Bafana find themselves in a must-win situation when they take on the Black Stars of Ghana in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at FNB Stadium on Thursday.

Defeat for Bafana and victory for Sudan over São Tomé and Príncipe in the other match of Group C this week would leave coach Molefi Ntseki and his men in serious danger of not qualifying for the tournament in Cameroon in 2022.

Here are the five SA players who will be key for Bafana as they look to claim the three points on offer:

Ronwen Williams: Ntseki is likely to go with continuity by choosing SuperSport United stopper Williams between the sticks as he has featured in all four group matches for Bafana so far. Williams has become the country’s number one, ahead of Itumeleng Khune in recent months as the veteran continues to struggle with injuries and loss of form.

Thulani Hlatshwayo: “Tyson” has set high standards for himself over the past few seasons‚ but he has been inconsistent at Orlando Pirates where he has taken the captain’s armband in the absence of Happy Jele. A lot is going to be expected from him in the heart of the Bafana defence against a Ghana attack that will be without influential Swansea City ace Andre Ayew and his younger brother Jordan of Crystal Palace.

Themba Zwane: “Mshishi” started the season like a house on fire with 10 goals from 22 matches in all competitions. Ntseki will be hoping that he translates that club form to the national team. The skilled Zwane will be tasked with the daunting job of initiating most of the attacks from midfield, but their job will be  made easier because Ghana will be without Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey.

Percy Tau: He has seen limited action since he arrived at his English Premiership club Brighton & Hove Albion in January and this match offers him an opportunity to put minutes under his belt. Having not played much this season‚ the extent of his physical conditioning will only be known during the match, and Ntseki will be hoping that he lasts for the entire game.

Lebo Maboe: The Sundowns utility forward has impressed for the Brazilians this season where he has been used as a No 8‚ a false No 9 or as an outright striker by the technical team of Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena. In his 25 matches so far‚ Maboe has scored five goals and contributed three assists. A lot will be expected from him in the attacking department to give the Ghana defenders endless headaches.

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