Safa rocked by Amajita players furore

GROUNDED:  Bidvest Wits have refused to release Phakamani Mahlambi to the national team. (Themba Makofane)
GROUNDED: Bidvest Wits have refused to release Phakamani Mahlambi to the national team. (Themba Makofane)

Johannesburg - Safa has been left with egg on its face after scoring a spectacular own goal.

This happened after Safa threatened to “deal” with clubs that refused to release players for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.

However, this has since backfired as it emerged Safa had no leg to stand on after Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United stood their ground.

As a result, coach Thabo Senong will have to do without United’s Teboho Mokoena and Wits’ Phakamani Mahlambi and Reeve Frosler.

Needed the player

And, unfortunately, they cannot be replaced in the team as their names have already been submitted to the International Federation of Association Football, meaning Senong will have to make do with 18 players – for now.

Mokoena will join the team after United’s Nedbank Cup semifinal game against Chippa United on ­Saturday, which means he will miss Amajita’s opening game against Japan.

The Wits duo will not travel to Korea after the Students made it clear that they needed the player during their Absa Premiership challenge.

Wits are on top of the log and on the verge of winning their maiden league title and believe the two will play a key role in landing the trophy.

Hypothetically, Wits could win the title on Wednesday. If that ­happens, the two players would be released.

Acts of defiance

But two things would have to happen for Wits to clinch the title: they would have to win their game against Polokwane City and ­second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns would have to lose to Maritzburg United.

The players could also be ­released if they both received red cards, which would ­obviously raise suspicions and open a can of worms.

Safa earlier in the week threatened to ­invoke article 2.17.18 of the ­association’s statutes.

The rule says the body can “suspend, fine, terminate the membership of or otherwise deal with any member, local football association, club or individual affiliated to them for engaging in acts of misconduct, improper practices, misdemeanour, acts of defiance, or for bringing Safa into ­disrepute”.

Safa held a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday, but the matter was adjourned for an unspecified time, according to a club official who did not want to be ­identified.

Bigger stage

“They have no leg to stand on because Fifa is clear on this issue. We are not obliged to release players as we have important games on our calendar. Safa should have engaged the league a long time ago to postpone just the last round of fixtures to accommodate this tournament. After all, the league will officially end on June 24 with the Nedbank Cup, and it would not have been a problem, but Safa failed to act in time,” said the official.

Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said it was sad that clubs would deny players the opportunity to showcase their talent and market themselves on a bigger stage.

However, he said there was a gentleman’s agreement with United to release Mokoena next week and that “the coach is comfortable with that”.

He later said Wits had agreed to release their two players next weekend, but a senior Wits official denied this.

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