Bafana opponents suffer major injury blows

SA National Teams

Bafana Bafana opponents France and Guinea have both suffered major injury blows ahead of this month's international friendlies.

South Africa are set to return to international action later this week when they meet Guinea in Belgium on Friday, 25 March, before being hosted by world champions France in Lille four days later.

Guinea have suffered a major injury blow on the eve of Friday's encounter after it was confirmed that captain Naby Keïta had withdrawn from the squad after sustaining a knee injury during club side Liverpool's FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

"The Guinean Football Federation has reported today [Monday] that Naby Keïta is set to miss their forthcoming fixtures due to a knee complaint," Liverpool said in a statement.

Scroll through the gallery to see South Africa's all-time leading goalscorers in World Cup qualifying

Meanwhile, next week's opponents France have also suffered two high-profile withdrawals after Benjamin Pavard and star striker Karim Benzema were both ruled out of Les Bleus' clashes against Ivory Coast and South Africa.

Bayern Munich defender Pavard is reported to have contracted Covid-19 while Benzema sustained a calf injury that ruled him out of Real Madrid's shock 4-0 El Clasico defeat to Barcelona over the weekend.

The former has since been replaced by Marseille's on-loan defender William Saliba, who could be in line to make his international debut, while AC Milan veteran Olivier Giroud takes Benzema's spot in the squad.

South Africa are not without their own injury concerns, however, after national team coach Hugo Broos confirmed that both Percy Tau and Thapelo Morena had been ruled out through injury.