Bafana coach in a fix

2013-12-22 10:00

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No players from top six teams

A showdown is looming between the SA Football Association (Safa) and its top affiliate, the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

This follows Friday’s shock press release when the league insisted that matches involving most clubs will go ahead during the African Nations Championship.

There has always been a love-hate relationship between the two entities, and it will be interesting to see the reaction of the Safa executive committee, which has hinted it may not take this decision lightly.

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is expected to announce his squad tomorrow, and some of his key players are from the reigning league champions Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

But the league’s revised fixtures have left him in a fix and his selection plans for the tournament are in disarray as he might be deprived of his best available team.

Unless another compromise is reached between Safa and the PSL, Igesund will take a weak team to the tournament.

This after the league released revised fixtures of five matches in January, which means Igesund cannot select players from Chiefs, Sundowns and Pirates as they have league fixtures scheduled during the tournament.

A stunned Igesund said he was very surprised to see the Chiefs game slotted in the fixtures.

“I know there was an agreement reached that I can’t select players from Pirates, AmaZulu, SuperSport and Ajax as they would be playing.

“I was instructed by Safa not to select players from these teams as it was the compromise we reached.

“I cannot comment on the new fixture as it is not part of the agreement,” said Igesund.

The league said in a statement: “Due to the heavy backlog created mainly by the progression of Pirates in the 2013 CAF Champions League tournament, it was decided that some of their postponed matches will be scheduled during this period.

“In addition, both Chiefs and SuperSport will be participating in the 2014 CAF Champions League from February.

“It was therefore decided that their outstanding postponed matches will also be played in January to alleviate congestion.”

But Igesund is expected to defy this decision and include players from Chiefs and Sundowns.

He said he had to reshuffle his list about five times before settling on the final team.

“It is not an ideal situation but there is nothing we can do but to start with our preparations.”

The tournament does not fall on Fifa dates, which means clubs are not obliged to release their players, although Safa and the league had reached a compromise.

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said the association’s understanding was that the only affected players were those from the four teams.

“We expect the agreement to stand and don’t expect anyone to abrogate it.

“We view this tournament as the second biggest on the continent and as the host we have to send our best players,” said Chimhavi.

It is not yet clear if the proposed friendly against Botswana on Saturday will still go ahead.

Igesund said he would not include some of the victorious players from the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in Lesotho last weekend.

“We appreciate that they have done well and the future looks bright for them but we cannot rush them into the senior team.

It would be like jumping from Grade 6 to university.

“They have not even represented the Under-23 team but people are already calling for their inclusion in Bafana. We don’t work like that,” said Igesund.

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