Bafana Bafana’s countdown

2013-12-15 10:50

Coach Gordon Igesund looking to top-tier players as clock ticks ahead of tournament.

While hosts Bafana Bafana still can’t make up their minds about the composition of their team for the African Nations Championship, big fish Nigeria and Ghana have already announced their provisional squads for the tournament, which kicks off on January 11.

At first glance, the Super Eagles’ selection is purely on a developmental basis as their provisional 30-man squad comprises three youngsters from their Under-17 side that won the Fifa Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates last month.

Similarly, Ghana has picked a member of their youth team that played at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Turkey last year.

The Black Stars will resume their camp on Tuesday in Accra.

Neighbours Zimbabwe have also kick-started their preparations with a 2-1 win over Mozambique last weekend.

In contrast, Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is still in the dark on whether he would get the players he wants, with less than

a month to go before the opening game against Mozambique at Cape Town Stadium.

Igesund has yet to give an indication of when the squad will assemble or who his desired players are.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs will break for the Christmas recess starting next weekend, which means Igesund should have already announced his provisional squad so players could report to camp.

On Friday, SA Football Association (Safa) chief executive Dennis Mumble told City Press that president Danny Jordaan and PSL chairman Irvin Khoza have been in discussions and “hope to finalise the discussion today”.

The PSL and Safa were initially to hold a joint liaison committee meeting last Monday, but it was overtaken by the Nelson Mandela mourning period.

It is unclear if the latest meeting did take place as the Safa leadership, which included Jordaan and Khoza, were scheduled to attend Mandela’s funeral today.

Given the PSL fixtures in January, clubs have already said it would be difficult to release their players.

The league has scheduled matches on non-match days of the African Nations Championship in an effort not to clash with the tournament dates.

According to the fixture list on the PSL website, there are full fixtures scheduled for January 23 and 24, and another full set of matches on January 27 and 28.

City Press has learnt that Igesund has already inquired about as many as seven players from Orlando Pirates for the tournament.

They include goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa; defenders Thabo Matlaba and Happy Jele; midfielders Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali and Daine Klate; and striker Kermit Erasmus.

But with Pirates still playing catch-up games due to their run in the CAF Champions League, the under-pressure Roger De Sa will be hard-pressed to release his best players.

Igesund also requested four players from Kaizer Chiefs in goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune, midfielders Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, and striker Bernard Parker.

Igesund was in Lesotho this week watching the national Under-20 side, who reached the final of the Cosafa Championships.

With little guarantee from the PSL clubs, it would be a good idea for Igesund to look at Shakes Mashaba’s team with an eye towards 2017 and 2018.

Igesund can blend some of the Amajita players with some fringe but experienced campaigners in the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns’ almost-forgotten goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.

Bafana are already behind schedule, as they are yet to start preparations. Their proposed friendly against Namibia is still on hold.

Last week, Igesund told City Press that he wanted to take his best players to the game, if it were to happen.

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