R4m keeps team on ball

2011-11-13 07:34

The South African Football Association (Safa) is sparing no costs to ensure that the national Under-23 squad qualifies for the Olympics in London next year.

Safa CEO Dr Robin Petersen told City Press yesterday that the organisation was spending a whopping R4 million for camping, the two friendly matches in Algeria and the qualifying tournament in Morocco.

“We are investing as much as we can as we want to give the team all the support they need not only to qualify for the Olympic Games but to do well at the tournament,” said Petersen. “We also chose Algeria as it is close to Morocco where the tournament will be held so that our players get used to the conditions.”

Some savings could have been made if the squad was to remain in North Africa until after the eight-nation tournament in Morocco, which runs from November 26 to December 10.

However, the club versus country battle has resulted in almost the entire team having to return to South Africa immediately after the second leg of their friendly game against Algeria on Thursday.

A total of 14 players are expected to jet back to honour their respective clubs’ league fixtures next weekend with the exception of Kaizer Chiefs’ Mandla Masango and Moroka Swallows goalkeeper Sage Lottering.

The Under-23 technical staff, including Mashaba, will also remain in North Africa.

“I won’t have a team to train as almost everybody is wanted back by their clubs, so we’ll see who comes back,” said Mashaba before the team’s departure this week.

Swallows coach Gordon Igesund said they have assured Mashaba that he can keep the club’s reserve goalkeeper Lottering, adding that the Birds would only recall the player “if there is an emergency”.

Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung said: “Mandla has just recovered from injury and he is currently not in the (Chiefs) playing team. So if the country needs him, the coach can have him,” said Motaung.

Mpumalanga Black Aces ­co-director Mario Morfou said: “We have already five of our players in the under-20s (for Cosafa Cup camp) and the agreement with the under-23s is to have our two players back from Algeria.”

The tournament in Morocco does not fall under the Fifa calendar and there is hope that a consensus will be reached between Safa and PSL at a meeting that has been scheduled for Tuesday.

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