No Nasief for Confed Cup

2009-06-05 00:00

THERE had to be at least one bombshell in the announcement of Bafana Bafana’s final 23-man squad to do duty as hosts of the Confederations Cup, which starts next weekend, and the axing of Spanish-based central defender Nasief Morris by coach Joel Santana was it.

Morris, who played in all but one game in Recreativo Huelva’s relegation campaign in Spain’s La Liga in the past season, was considered an automatic choice starting next to captain Aaron Mokoena in central defence in the Confed, but has been dropped for an infringement that the Bafana team management were not willing to

expand on yesterday.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the team at the Sunnyside Hotel in Parktown, Johannesburg, yesterday Santana would only say: “I’m not going to go into details why we dropped Morris — it is an internal matter.”

Reports have said Morris was “confrontational” on his arrival in the Bafana training camp. Morris arrived a day late from camp after spending a day in Cape Town with his family.

Santana has already made two examples of players with a bad attitude for his Confed squad.

He did not select Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy to the original 30 for the training camp that has been held at Milpark in Johannesburg and started predominantly with the local-based players on May 15. McCarthy was punished for not turning up to South Africa’s friendlies against Norway and Portugal in March, claiming an injury.

Ajax Cape Town striker Mabhudi Khenyeza, who returned to KZN to perform a traditional ritual instead of turning up for the camp, was also axed.

It might also raise questions over how much faith Brazilian Santana has inspired in the players.

With Morris out of the squad Matthew Booth must now be favourite to play next to Mokoena, though SuperSport United’s tough defensive duo of Bongani Khumalo and Morgan Gould will push hard for selection.

Apart from Morris the other axed players are goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, forward Thulasizwe Mbuyane, defender Mzivukhile Tom and midfielder Siyabonga Nkosi.

Israel-based Tsepho Masilela will be the favoured left-back, while Mamelodi Sundowns’ Siboniso Gaxa has kept Bryce Moon of Panathinkaikos on the bench with some solid performances at right-back.

Benson Mhlongo’s form in for Premier Soccer League runners-up Orlando Pirates this season means the defensive midfielder will be considered along with Rubin Kazan’s Macbeth Sibaya and Lamtontville Golden Arrows’ Kagisho Dikgacoi for the holding midfield role.

Up-front Red Star Belgrade’s Bernard Parker and Pirates’ technically correct, intelligent striker Katlego Mashego will be relied on as the main source of goals playing in front of creative players such as Steven Pienaar, Blackburn’s new signing Elrio van Heerden and Teko Modise.

Itumeleng Khune’s consistent selection by Santana should see the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper retained between the posts.

South Africa’s 23-man Confed Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Brian Baloyi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs).

Defenders: Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bryce Moon (Panathinaikos, Greece), Aaron Mokoena (Ports­mouth, England), Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Mdledle (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Lance Davids (SuperSport United), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Benson Mhlongo (Orlando Pirates), Elrio van Heerden (Blackburn Rovers, England)

Forwards: Katlego Mashego (Orlando Pirates), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Bernard Parker (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns)

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