Shakes Mashaba could be deprived of key players

2014-11-23 15:01

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Having just booked a ticket to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba could be without most of his triumphant squad for next weekend’s Nelson Mandela Challenge.

Bafana take on Ivory Coast at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday for a game to honour the former president. Mashaba is facing a race against time to field a competitive team on the day.

City Press has learnt that many PSL clubs are reluctant to release their players because the game – also a showcase for local talent – does not feature on the official Fifa calendar.

As matters stand, Mashaba will be deprived of players from SuperSport United and Platinum Stars. The teams will contest the Telkom Knockout final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

One club official – who asked to remain anonymous – said there was to be a meeting this week at the PSL offices to discuss the upcoming Bafana game.

He said the tight league programme would make it impossible for clubs to release key players.

“We want to assist Shakes but our programme is very congested. There are two league games coming

up straight after the Nelson Mandela Challenge,” the official said.

There is a full league programme on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the game, then there is the small matter of the Soweto derby on December 6.

But Mashaba will have an opportunity to add to his pool of players by blooding new prospects.

He said after the draw with Nigeria this week that he needed two or three friendly games to fine-tune his side ahead of the Afcon tournament.

Last week, he hinted that the bulk of the players could come from the national under-20 team. They are preparing for next year’s African Youth Championship in Senegal.

Amajita will also take part in the Commonwealth of Independent States Cup in Russia in January.

Since returning to the Bafana hot seat, Mashaba has not lost a game in six outings, winning three.

Bafana finished top of their Afcon qualifying group after a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Nigeria midweek, shattering the Super Eagles’ hopes of defending their continental crown.

This is the first time Bafana have qualified for the tournament since they competed in the 2008 edition in Ghana. They took part in the 2013 tournament by virtue of being the hosts. They missed out on the 2010 edition, held in Angola, and the 2012 showpiece, when Equatorial Guinea and Gabon welcomed the continent’s top teams.

The draw for next year’s tournament will take place on December 3 in Malabo, the capital of host nation Equatorial Guinea.

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