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Parker is still not fighting fit

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By Jonty Mark

Johannesburg – Stuart Baxter believes that Bernard Parker may not be fit enough to play for Bafana against Malawi on Saturday, even though the Kaizer Chiefs striker came off the bench to score a wonder goal against AmaZulu on Tuesday night in the Absa Premiership.

Parker injured his ankle in the 1-1 draw with Tuks last Saturday, and was left out of the starting line-up for the Usuthu match, which Chiefs won 2-0 to ensure they go in to the Christmas break on top of the league table.

“Parker was struggling and I didn’t think he’d be able to play,” said Baxter.

“I spoke to Gordon (Igesund, the Bafana coach) and said that I was starting him on the bench because he is not 100 percent. He’s taken a couple of whacks and will probably limp away from the stadium this evening.

“I will talk to Gordon in the morning (again) and give my opinion on the (workload) on Bernard. It’s Gordon’s shout if he does or doesn’t play. But at the moment Bernard has an injury and unless it improves greatly over the next couple of days I think he will be struggling for the Malawi game.”

If Parker does miss out, that would leave his strike partner Lehlohonolo Majoro and former Orlando Pirates striker Tokelo Rantie as Igesund’s two options for the Malawi friendly, as he begins his final preparations for next year’s African Nations Cup.

Baxter has already voiced his concern about the workload on his internationals, with Chiefs likely to have seven representatives in the Bafana squad at Afcon 2013.

And the Chiefs coach again stressed that potential Afcon injuries could force him into the transfer market in January.

“It is difficult when you are top of the league and you try to explain to people that you need to strengthen,” he said. “But if we have a bit of bad luck in the Afcon we could be looking thin. So I need to keep one eye on the markets and one on the Afcon, hoping we don’t need to go and buy big.”

Baxter said he felt his players “had a bit of Afcon in their heads, and a bit of fatigue, they have been top of the league since the first kick of the ball” as they rather laboured to victory over AmaZulu.

“We closed with a win, I’m not certain it’s a high,” said the Chiefs coach.

“… the goals came from turnovers, I don’t think it was a pretty game, both teams gave away possession far too often. AmaZulu played a strong game and they are getting to know their coach’s requirements.

“Our passing, I have never seen it as poor as that. Whether that is pressure from our opponents or unforced errors, I don’t know. I will decide when we I have seen the game a couple of times. But I am pleased with the three points, and the second goal from Bernard Parker was quality. We were screaming out for a little bit of that sort of quality.”

AmaZulu remain bottom of the table going into Christmas, but Rosslee seemed relatively pleased with their performance against the Amakhosi.

“They followed instructions for the first 35 minutes, they were nice and organised, compact and restricted Chiefs’ game pattern,” he said. “Unfortunately a mistake at the back led to the opening goal. We did well to come back and make a game of it in the second half as well. Then there was another mistake, though it was a great goal by Parker, you can’t take anything away from that.

“… In the break we need two or three players to bolster the squad and we’ll get better from here. Although the result was not what we desired it was very positive to see the boys playing football out there.” – The Star

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