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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
What chance for Bartlett?
Bartlett has scored vital goals for Charlton Athletic
He may have taken a long and circuitous route to the top, but Shaun Bartlett can rest assured of his place on the world stage.

The 29-year-old striker moved to the English Premiership late last year and has captained South Africa through much of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

His country's record goalscorer, he will be a key component for Bafana Bafana in Korea and Japan... if he is selected.

Bartlett has endured a frustrating season that has been blighted by injury.

He made only 17 appearances for Charlton Athletic before injuring himself while on international duty at the African Nations Cup in Mali.

Charlton have coped with the loss, but it is questionable as to whether South Africa can as well.

Bartlett's early days in the pro ranks in South Africa saw him polished by former England under-21 international and Ipswich Town striker Mich D'Avray.

It was under D'Avray at Cape Town Spurs that Bartlett flourished.

His pace and accuracy helping his team win the league and cup double in 1995.

South African coach Clive Barker included him in the squad for the 1996 Nations Cup finals, where Bartlett scored a brilliant semi-final goal against Ghana that set South Africa on their way to the title.

He took a further step on the international stage at the 1998 World Cup where he finished as his country's leading scorer with two goals.

Bartlett soon took over the leadership mantle as injury and unavailability robbed the Bafana Bafana of Lucas Radebe.

But two years on, like Radebe, Bartlett felt compelled to limit his availability to the national cause.

He decided to concentrate on Charlton - much to the consternation of coach Carlos Querioz.

Querioz called his bluff, stating that only those who were willing to take part in mali would make the trip to Korea and Japan.

Despite being team captain, Bartlett was a reluctant traveller.

Bad became worse when he injured his calf 17 minutes into the match against Burkina Faso.

That injury has ruined his season, home and abroad, and has left his World Cup participation in jeopardy.

New national coach Jomo Sono has yet to see the country's record goalscorer in action, an Achilles injury the latest setback on the comeback trail.

There is an air of quiet, steely determination about Bartlett and it is a reflection of his importance to the national team that Querioz insisted on his presence in Mali.

That dispute has since been resolved and, while South Africa are struggling without their captain through their pre-World Cup warm-up campaign, it is inconceivable that he will not be on the plane to the Far East - fitness permitting.

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GROUP B
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SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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