Chiefs, Wits snub Bafana

2014-01-03 00:00

CONFUSION was the order of the day yesterday as Bafana Bafana tried and failed to assemble their 23-man squad that will take part in this month’s Chan tournament in South Africa.

The day started with South Africa digesting a Kaizer Chiefs Tweet stating that none of their five players in the squad (Itumeleng Khune, Tefo Mashamaite, Tsepo Masilela, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker) would be available for the group stages of the competition that begins on January 11.

Instead, Chiefs confirmed that they will release their players to Bafana after their PSL clash against Mamelodi Sundowns on January 23 — in time for the quarter-finals should Bafana qualify.

Sundowns then released a statement saying that they would allow their five players [Bryce Moon, Tebogo Langerman, Hlompo Kekana, Jabulani Shongwe and Katlego Mashego] to join Bafana from the start of the tournament.

“It should be important for all clubs to support the nation; we never stand in the way of the nation’s path,” Sundowns media officer Thulani Thuswa told The Witness yesterday. “It is good for the country, and good for the players. We were never going to base our decision on what Chiefs decided to do.”

Initially, Bafana were due to hold a training camp from December 27-30, but coach Gordon Igesund called it off saying that his players deserved a break over New Years.

Then, yesterday, all 23 players were due to assemble at a hotel in Johannesburg around lunch time. But, getting a national squad together at the same time appears to be harder work in this country than others.

“The Chiefs and Wits players were not here,” Safa media officer Matlhomola Morake told The Witness telephonically.

Clubs are not obligated to release their players due to Chan not being played in a designated Fifa international window.

When asked if yesterday’s squad assembly had deteriorated into a case of waiting to see who shows up, Morake replied, “What else can you do?”

Wits have goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, defender Kwanda Mngonyama and midfielders Ryan Chapman and Sibusiso Vilakazi in the squad.

Speaking to SoccerLaduma.com yesterday, Igesund was quoted as saying that he is expecting all 23 of his players for a medical examination in Pretoria today before they make the trip to Cape Town.

“After the medicals we will return to Johannesburg to fly out to Cape Town to start our camp and begin preparations for the tournament,” he told the website.

“I’m expecting all of the players that I picked to report to camp tomorrow.”

Morake was not so sure.

“I cannot say that they [the Chiefs and Wits players] will be there,” he said. “It is a concern.”

Chiefs playmaker Reneilwe Letsholonyane’s injured knee has seen him replaced in the squad by Moroka Swallows’ Asavela Mbekile.

Only those players that play their football in the PSL are eligible for the Chan squad.

Bafana are grouped with Mozambique, Mali and Nigeria.

Bafana squad for Chan

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Bidvest Wits), Siyabonga Mpontshane (Platinum Stars)

Defenders: Thabo Nthete (Bloemfontein Celti), Tshepo Gumede (Platinum Stars), Tefo Mashamaite (Kaizer Chiefs), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Tuks), Kwanda Mngonyama (Bidvest Wits), Vuyo Simple (Platinum Stars), Bryce Moon (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Midfielders: Ryan Chapman (Bidvest Wits), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Jabulani Shongwe (Mamelodi Sundowns), Asavela Mbekile (Moroka Swallows), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Lindokuhle Mbatha (Platinum Stars), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Forwards: Katlego Mashego (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Edward Manqele (Moroka Swallows).

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