THE incredible injury jinx that has struck Bafana Bafana players since Gordon Igesund took charge of the side has put a dent in the coach's plans for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
Perhaps the most severely-hit area has been the forwards, with arguably the top nine striker picks for Igesund either out injured or, in just one instance, carrying an injury.
It means that Bafana could potentially go into the Nations Cup finals with arguably their bluntest attack ever for a major finals, leaving Igesund needing to use all his nine lives to progress through the competition.
"It is a blow all of these injuries that we have had, not just to the strikers but all through the team. It has been quite incredible," Igesund says. "But this is football and there is not much we can do about it.
"We are monitoring the situation with all of them very closely and we will make a call closer to the time. I said before that it might be a case of we take a gamble on a player who we know can only give us 60 or 70 minutes. We may have to do that."
Here are the nine strikers who face a battle to be fit for the tournament:
KERMIT ERASMUS (SUPERSPORT UNITED)
Status: Hamstring injury - out for two to four weeks.
Erasmus was brought back into the Bafana squad for the 1-0 loss to Zambia earlier this month. But a hamstring injury has laid him low and he could miss the bulk of December action, which would place his Nations Cup place in serious doubt.
BRADLEY GROBLER (AJAX CAPE TOWN)
Status: Injury unknown - return date unknown.
Grobler has not been selected under Igesund yet, but has played for Bafana in the last 12 months and on his day is a leading scorer in the PSL. He missed Ajax's 0-0 draw with Bidvest Wits in midweek and coach Jan Pruijn confirmed this week that they have not managed to diagnose the injury yet. Grobler could be spotted training on his own at Ikamva.
BENNI MCCARTHY (ORLANDO PIRATES)
Status: Hamstring injury - return date unknown.
McCarthy keeps threatening to come back from a hamstring injury picked up during a nine-minute appearance for Bafana in Brazil in September, but has had his return postponed a few times, most recently last week. Even if he does win this battle, his ability to play a lot of games in a short space of time at the Nations Cup must be considered a risk.
KATLEGO MPHELA (MAMELODI SUNDOWNS)
Status: Knee injury - return date unknown.
There have been doubts all along that Mphela would return from knee surgery in time for the Nations Cup and with each passing day it appears more likely he will miss out. It is a blow for the country to lose its leading marksman and a player who for three years has carried the scoring duties for the side. Chances of him being fit for the Nations Cup are very slim.
DINO NDLOVU (MACCABI HAIFA, ISRAEL)
Status: Fracture of the foot - out for six weeks.
Ndlovu suffered a fracture on Monday while playing for Maccabi Haifa and faces six weeks on the sidelines. He says he is unsure whether he will be fit for the Nations Cup, with his scheduled return set for early January. The absence of game time between now and then will do nothing for his form either.
SIYABONGA NOMVETHE (MOROKA SWALLOWS)
Status: Toe injury - return date unknown.
Nomvethe said last week that he was confident of making the Nations Cup finals after having surgery on his toe, but doctors seem less convinced and the chances at this stage are slim. It would be another blow for Igesund, who could have used Nomvethe's vast experience and versatility in the tournament.
BERNARD PARKER (KAIZER CHIEFS)
Status: Carrying an ankle injury.
Parker limped out of the loss to Zambia at half time with a sore ankle. He has kept on playing for club and country though, but with minimal time to rest between now and the Nations Cup, and a hectic schedule of league matches in December, there is a possibility his ankle can flare up into something more serious.
TOKELO RANTIE (MALMO, SWEDEN)
Status: Knee injury - out for two weeks.
Rantie injured his knee in the loss to Zambia and was replaced in the first half. His recovery time was given as three weeks, but the problem is that it is an old injury that has recurred. He has had constant problems with that knee and it will be a worry for Igesund as he heads to the Nations Cup.
DAVIDE SOMMA (LEEDS UNITED, ENGLAND)
Status: Back in light training.
Somma has been out for almost 18 months with a knee problem and although he has begun light training, it is almost inconceivable that he could be back to full fitness for the Nations Cup. It is unlikely that his club, Leeds United, would let him travel as they desperately need him for the second half of the campaign.