University of Pretoria coach Shaun Bartlett backs Bafana without Itumeleng Khune
Posted: 7 November 2017 Time: 17:30
Bafana Bafana legend Shaun Bartlett is confident the the national team can beat Senegal on Friday regardless of whether star goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is in the team.
Khune is doubtful for the must-win Group D World Cup qualifier in Polokwane with a facial fracture sustained in Kaizer Chiefs' Telkom Knockout win over Chippa United this past Sunday.
Bafana coach Baxter also has Orlando Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands and SuperSport United's Ronwen Williams at his disposal.
"Obviously I think they'very showed a good performance last time," Bartlett tells KickOff.com referring to the 3-1 defeat of Burkina Faso a month ago.
"With Khune not being there a lot of people would think it's the end of our World Cup run, but I think players coming into the squad are capable of handling the pressure and putting in a good performance.
"But the important one is to make sure we get a win, otherwise it's irrelevant what is gonna happen in the second game. You can't draw any of the games, you have to win both games. We are very fortunate that it's in our hands and players just need to step up and obviously take instructions that are given to them by the technical team."
Bartlett, who is second to Benni McCarthy on Bafana's all-time leading scorers' list with 29 goals, feels it is not solely up to the forwards to do damage against the Teranga Lions at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
"It's not really about strikers, because in order for strikers to benefit we need the whole team to play well. So I think as far as the whole starting eleven is concerned... they need to ensure that they play to the best of their ability and take pride in what they do, and make sure that they put all the pressure to the opponents. In order to win any group or league or qualifier, you need everybody to contribute, not just the strikers. From me that is the message to them," concluded the University of Pretoria coach.
Bafana must beat the Senegalese in Polokwane and also win the return match in Dakar next Tuesday to qualify for Russia 2018.