Dikgacoi Lite might have to mark Neymar
KAGISHO Dikgacoi has lost 6kg and says he's fighting fit - it's just as well because, come tomorrow's friendly international here against Brazil the Bafana defensive midfielder is likely to be handed the job of marking one of the game's emerging stars, Neymar.
Dikgacoi drew special attention from Bafana coach Gordon Igesund for the sharpness he's shown in training this week. The Crystal Palace midfielder, who has become an integral part of the team, was put on a special programme by the English Championship team's nutritionist in the pre-season.
"It's good to hear from the manager giving out such good words," Dikgacoi said. "I've worked hard during the pre-season. It has been tough but, at the end of the day, it gives out good rewards.
"I'm hoping to stay injury-free and [to be a permanent feature on] the national team. [I also want] to represent [Bafana] at the Africa Cup of Nations [next year]," he said.
Injury-prone Dikgacoi, who has also fought a constant battle of the bulge, was afflicted by two hamstring injuries that hampered his chances for selection at Palace.
This season the club has not started well, bleeding goals in four defeats and a single win. But Dikgacoi's form caught Igesund's eye, including his goal in a 3-2 league defeat by Watford and a winner in a 3-2 League Cup victory over Exeter.
The bulky midfielder can spread a pass well but, when he is sluggish, he is known to struggle with his marking duties. So it'll be reassuring for Bafana to know that the man likely to mark rising star Neymar is on top of his fitness.
"What's left for me is just to work hard and maintain my position in the team," he said. "A couple of names have been left out. But I do believe we still have some good players here to give Brazil a good run."
He said it's sad that Bafana have had to grapple with player withdrawals this week. Steven Pienaar has been withdrawn by Everton because of a hamstring injury, despite having played for 90 minutes against West Ham on Saturday. Anele Ngcongca did not even show up, a letter from his club excusing him.