Zuma arrives, Nkosi stalled by club

2007-11-15 00:00

SIBUSISO Zuma's welcome arrival back in the Bafana Bafana squad yesterday to play against U.S.A. in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Ellis Park after a return from injury was balanced by midfielder Siyabonga Nkosi's no-show.

Nkosi was held back by German club Arminia Bielefeld, where he is a team-mate of both Zuma and Bafana goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez. Fernandez and Zuma were both released by the club.

Bafana team manager Sipho Nkumane said yesterday the SA Football Association is still dealing with Bielefeld to try to secure Nkosi's release amicably, but will go to Fifa on the matter if it has no success.

“Bielefeld have released Fernandez and Zuma, so we are not sure why they have held back Nkosi … ” Nkumane said. “The match is on a Fifa date and if Nkosi does not arrive then he could receive a ban from playing for his club.”

Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira would have been pleased at Zuma's return, particularly in light of the national team's recent lack of creativity up-front, having scored just two goals in their last six matches.

Apart from Nkosi, all other foreign-based players had arrived by yesterday. However, Parreira still had only half a squad to work with because of last night's full round of Premier Soccer League matches.

“It is not an ideal situation at all, especially considering that U.S.A. arrived on Sunday with almost all their players and have been hard at work since then,” Nkumane said.

Parreira will use a full-strength side against the U.S.A., then a local-based team against Canada in Durban next Wednesday. These last two high-profile friendlies Bafana play ahead of the African Nations Cup finals in Ghana in January will serve to establish the final squad.

Much of Parreira's Nations Cup thinking is already revealed in the two squads. The dropping of goalkeeper Calvin Marlin makes it likely that Rowen Fernandez and Moeneeb Josephs will be in Ghana.

Bryce Moon's selection to the squad to play U.S.A. suggests he might have the inside lane at right midfield and cover for right-back. The sacking of ageing Cyril Nzama at right-back means talented Vuyo Mere will finally be thrown in the deep end.

U.S.A., ranked 18th in the world, have brought a strong squad that includes Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, Fulham midfielder Carlos Bocanegra and teenaged Benfica midfielder Freddy Addu. Canada arrive today.

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