Everton must release Pienaar

2008-01-08 00:00

World governing body Fifa have ordered Everton to release Steven Pienaar so he can join Bafana Bafana’s training camp for the African Nations Cup, but the midfielder had still not joined his team-mates in Durban yesterday.

Pienaar was one of only two players to have not joined the camp, with Israeli-based left-back Tsepo Masilela due to arrive this morning. Injured Mamelodi Sundowns right-back Vuyo Mere has been replaced by Bloemfontein Celtic’s Tumelo Nhlapo for the Nations Cup, which begins in Ghana on January 20.

Bafana team manager Sipho Nkumane said at a press conference in Durban yesterday that the technical staff had not heard from Pienaar, whose club manager, David Moyes, intended to use the midfielder in Everton’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea tonight.

"He is supposed to have reported for camp on Sunday and there has never been an indication from his side [to the contrary], and the team [Everton] as well," Nkumane said.

Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said the team’s management had insisted on all South Africa’s foreign-based players being released for the training campin order to set a precedent.

"We are not going to allow any club to not release players. We respect the clubs’ rights and we want our rights to be respected," the coach said.

"We want to create a principle. The coaches have been spoken to directly, and it has been made very clear that we are not against the clubs, but also if we start releasing players we will not establish a principle.

"We are in the very serious position of preparing a host team for the World Cup."

Pienaar’s continued no-show, and a reported contractual dispute between the players and the SA Football Association were the pressing issues of the press conference.

Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena is reported to be brokering a truce between the players and the association, but when asked about this, Mokoena was gagged by Safa’s head of delegation, Mandla Mazibuko.

Pressed for a response, Mokoena only replied: "I have not signed a contract yet."

Bafana play friendly international warm-up matches against Mozambique on January 12 and Botswana on January 16 at Chatsworth Stadium.

Parreira reiterated that the Nations Cup will be a further building block towards putting together a competitive team for the 2010 World Cup.

"It is important to give a golden opportunity to the new players to show to themselves they are ready to represent the country.

"We have a lot of new players in this team, surrounded by the experience of the captain [Mokoena], Nasief [Morris] and [Sibusiso] Zuma, who give the younger players stability."

Asked if Bafana have a plan to counter the physical nature of Group D opponents — Angola, Tunisia and Senegal, Parreira replied: "It’s important to have a good physique, but football, thank God, is not a game of physique and power. We know in Brazil that it is a game of technique and skills, good discipline and organisation."

Bafana depart for Ghana on January 18.

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