Five key men for Bafana Bafana against Libya

Itumeleng Khune gets an attack going for Bafana Bafana Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

South Africa face Libya in a must-win Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Durban on Saturday with a squad missing a number of players who would have likely started against the North African side.

That has meant some shuffling from coach Stuart Baxter as he tries to find the right formula to break down what is likely to be a stubborn Libyan defence.

KweséESPN looks at five players who will be crucial for Bafana Bafana at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Itumeleng Khune

Isn't he always? But the goalkeeper might be even more influential in this fixture and not necessarily for his saves.

His pinpoint, quick distribution can get his side on the counter-attack in the blink of an eye and release the side's creative players far up the pitch while the Libyans are still re-organising themselves. Khune is excellent at this, and he can be a real attacking weapon for the team. How many goalkeepers can say that?

Thulani Hlatshwayo

In what could be an otherwise fairly inexperienced defence at international level, Hlatshwayo will be the chief organiser and the onus will be on him to keep the wily Libyan attackers under wraps.

Bafana cannot afford to go a goal down against what is likely to be a resolute visiting defence and Hlatshwayo will need to provide that leadership at the back to keep the North Africans at bay.

Percy Tau

Tau is crucial to Bafana in any game these days as he is their most creative player and perhaps the one who can construct chances, either for himself or others, out of nothing.

Quick with his feet and in thought, the mantle of chief goalscorer in the national team has been passed onto him and despite it being early in his career, with just 12 caps, he has netted five times, including three in his last four games.

Kamohelo Mokotjo

The most under-rated Bafana player ever? Perhaps, given the way this artist has been ignored in the past by a succession of Bafana coaches. It is bordering on a national scandal that at the age of 27, Mokotjo has only won 11 caps.

His efficient, intelligent work in the middle of the park could be invaluable to the side as they try to stay on the front foot and put the Libyans under pressure.

Bradley Grobler

If chances are to be a premium, then you need a sniper in the box and Grobler will be the go-to guy there. He is arguably the best finisher in the Premier Soccer League and can be deadly from six-yards - just ask Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans.

Grobler has a calmness to his play that is sometimes missing from others, though he can at times appear a bit languid and he is not the most mobile of forwards. But if you present him with chances, odds are he will score from at least one.