Bafana’s cup training in the crossfire

2010-03-14 12:02

PERSONALITY clashes and power jostling within the South African

Football Association (Safa) administration are threatening to throw Bafana

Bafana’s World Cup preparations into disarray.

City Press can today disclose that this is the real reason behind

CEO Leslie Sedibe’s decision to bar Bafana manager Sipho Nkumane from travelling

with the team to Brazil this week.

In a seven-page, 12-point letter dated March 6, Sedibe informed

Nkumane that he was prohibited from travelling with the team to Brazil on March

7 “or at all”.

This instruction is hidden in point 4.2 of the letter, but insiders

who spoke on condition of anonymity this week said the core of the matter was in

point number 1 where ­Sedibe registers “serious concerns” regarding Nkumane’s

conduct as team manager and “your relationship with your colleagues”.

A litany of accusations is levelled against Nkumane and his

relationships with colleagues who are directors within the association.

These include director of strategic planning in the office of the

Safa president Dennis Mumble, director of communications Morio Sanyane,

financial director Grony Hluyo and commercial director Victor Nosi.

The letter also queries Nkumane’s cellphone bill which is “in the

region of R25 000 a month, with one month even being in excess of R70


A staff member who refused to be named asked: “How can they query

Sipho’s bill when Joel Santana is still using Safa’s cellphone?”

When City Press called the number it rang continuously with an

international tone without being picked up. On Friday it was on


Sedibe said late on Friday that he was unaware Santana was still

using the phone. He promised to find out the reasons why the Brazilian was still

using it.

Nkumane, who this week refused to talk to City Press, saying this

was an internal matter, has in the past been accused of ring-fencing


Things came to a head last month when Hluyo refused to pay national

team players for the friendly match against Zimbabwe, demanding that he be given

a revised budget for the team’s Durban camp.

The players were paid a day after City Press ran a story on the

non-payment as well as the collapse of the arrangement for Bafana to use Esselen

Park as a base camp.

Responding to questions that week, Sedibe said he had secured the

Southern Sun Hotel on Grayston Drive, Sandton, as a base camp and Sandown High

School just across the road for training.

It later emerged that the Sandown premises were not secured when he

made that pronouncement.

Bafana will now train at Wits University’s Sturrock Park, a

development that was announced this week.

Sedibe on Wednesday told Metro FM’s Discovery Sports Centre that

Nkumane’s letter was an internal matter.

Quizzed on the travel arrangements which saw the team travel in

three groups to Brazil, Sedibe said the decision was based on safety.

“There have been incidents of entire teams being wiped out and even

the one including the singer Aliyah. We wanted to avoid that,” he said.

However, further investigation revealed that the scenario was

caused by a postponement due to initial travel dates being changed after the

Premier Soccer League requested that the season be extended by a week, and Safa


This caused a logistical nightmare as there were no flights

available for the team to travel together.

As a matter of fact the team will return as one group on April


City Press also established that the Bafana management team headed

by Nkumane and his assistant, Gugu Marawa, had mentioned their dissatisfaction

with the performance of several Safa departments in numerous reports.

They have made recommendations ranging from “the ­appointment of a

finance person to work closely with team ­management” to “the non-appointment of

a competent media officer remains the single most frustrating area in the team’s

various departments”.

The latest report given to Sedibe after the Durban camp reads in

part: “With only a few months to go to the Fifa World Cup it would be

appreciated if we were to receive some support instead of roadblocks in the work

we are doing with limited staff.”

It further points out that: “If the preparation programme for 2010

is going to be realised, then the ­concept that was used during the Fifa

Confederations Cup, that there was no money for the team with the exception of

prize money and a R3 million (grant) is not going to work.”

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