Bafana leave for Chan with 14 players

2014-01-04 00:00

BAFANA Bafana left Johannesburg for Cape Town last night to begin their preparations for next week’s African Nations Championship (Chan) with just 14 of their 23-man squad on the plane.

This comes after Wits and Kaizer Chiefs players failed to join the squad on Thursday, and then again yesterday when Gordon Igesund’s charges were due to undergo a medical examination in Pretoria before making their way to Cape Town. Bafana are looking to win their first piece of silverware since the 1996 African Cup of Nations.

Chan is not a Fifa-sanctioned tournament, and clubs are therefore not obliged to release their players to the national sides. Players who play football outside of their country of birth are not eligible for selection.

Chiefs tweeted on Thursday saying that their five players — Siphiwe Tshabalala, Itumeleng Khune, Tsepo Masilela, Tefu Mashamaite and Bernard Parker — would be released to the Bafana squad after their PSL clash against Mamelodi Sundowns on January 23. That would see them able to play in the tournament’s quarter-finals should Bafana progress out of their group. Sundowns have released their five players without a hassle.

Chiefs owner Kaizer Motaung was at a meeting with Safa president Danny Jordaan on December 23, when it appeared that the club had agreed to release their players.

“The meeting which took place on December 23, and agreed to a caucus break for Safa president and members Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung and Patrice Motsepe [who joined on the tele-conference], re-affirmed the importance of balancing the need to have a strong team for Chan 2014 while allowing some PSL games to be played during this period,” a Safa statement that appeared on read at the time. “This meeting agreed that the match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs scheduled for January 28 be brought forward to January 23, which is a rest period between the last round and quarter-finals of the Chan event.”

“This decision was conveyed to coach Gordon Igesund with the instruction to finalise his team selection,” Jordaan added.

But things have not turned out as Igesund would have hoped.

“We have 14 players here, and we will arrive in Cape Town in the morning with 14 players where we will begin training,” Bafana media officer Matlhomola Morake told Weekend Witness yesterday.

“I can’t say if the players will be replaced, that is for the coach to decide and I have not spoken to him.”

Wits CEO Jose Ferreira confirmed that his club’s decision to remove their players from the Bafana squad came last weekend, but he added that discussions with the South African Football Association (Safa) were pending.

“There is a possibility that we will reverse our decision,” Ferreira said, before adding that he expected to reach finality on the matter late last night.

If Wits were to backtrack, then Ryan Chapman, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Moeneeb Josephs and Kwanda Mngonyama would likely join the squad this weekend.

At the time of going to press last night, Ferreira confirmed that a decision between Wits and Safa had not yet been reached.

SA open their campaign against Mozambique at Cape Town next Saturday.

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