Host of problems face SAFA

By Drum Digital
04 September 2013

Safa faces a host of problems in staging the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) African Nations Cup Championship (Chan) in January.

It was a take-it-or-leave-it package deal for Safa when it agreed to host the African Nations Cup, held earlier this year, and Caf's Cinderella version of the event in which overseas-based players are not eligible.

Chan coincides with the resumption of the Premier League after the mid-season Christmas break, but because it is not recognised as an official tournament by Fifa, PSL clubs will not have to release their players for it.

Prospective sponsors are also not falling over themselves to be associated with an event in which the majority of the continent's greatest drawcards will not participate.

Egypt did not enter the event, preferring to concentrate on their World Cup qualifying bid, and the Ivory Coast, which is considered Africa's glamour team right now, and 2012 African Nations Cup champions Zambia have failed to qualify with depleted line-ups.

With these issues clouding the competition, Safa has decided that games in the 16-nation tournament will be staged in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Rustenburg, and not in the traditional main venues of Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.

On Wednesday, Safa president Kirsten Nematandani admitted that there were issues which had to be resolved, and that a major local sponsor had not yet been secured.

"But the event has its significance, like grooming a squad for the 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers," he said.

"Also, we have received promises of encouraging support from the government, as well as the provincial authorities in which games will be played."

Nematandani said meetings would be staged with the PSL to formulate some sort of agreement on the release of players to represent Bafana Bafana

"It would be highly embarrassing for the host nation to field a depleted squad in the tournament and I'm confident we'll be able to come to some sort of arrangement with the PSL that will be satisfactory to all parties concerned."

Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung, whose club refused to release star players for the recent Cosafa Cup, said his side was not ready to pass comment on releasing players.

"It's too soon to make any decisions on releasing players for the Nations Championship.

"There are other issues on our plate right now. Let's see how everything pans out."

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said there was a lot to consider with his side's participation in the tournament.

"I have already given serious thought to the Nations Championship and how it will affect future plans, but my priority right now is the bid to qualify for next year's World Cup," he said.

-Sapa

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