Bafana meet Senegal in a replayed match - annulled by Federation Internationale de Football Association due to match manipulation - in Polokwane on November 10 and then in Dakar on November 14‚ needing to win both games to reach Russia 2018. For the most part things were looking good for Liverpool, and then disaster struck late on Saturday for Sadio Mane.
The 25-year-old's importance to Liverpool going forward is unquestioned.
"Last season without him Liverpool fell apart at times".
That is according to former Premier League star David Ginola.
On top form, Sturridge is the most ruthless finisher in Liverpool's team by a distance.
Mane has been held scoreless in four Champions League appearances so far this season but, having set up Philippe Coutinho's equaliser against Spartak Moscow last time out, as well as Emre Can's opener in the play-off first leg against Hoffenheim, he will be missed in two Group E games with Maribor and one against Sevilla. If he thrives, it is highly likely Liverpool will as well.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is not the only player who needs to step up - and that would have been the case without Mané's injury.
"Liverpool pretty much rely on Coutinho, Salah and Mane as the goalscorers". Ahead of the 3-3 draw at Watford on the first day of the season, he said of playing Mane and Salah together: 'It makes us more hard to defend because speed is the most hard thing to defend in football.
'It creates spaces for all the rest, even just the threat of speed opens space in different areas and we need to use them'.