Bafana Bafana's training session yesterday ahead of tomorrow's African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Mauritius at the Dobsonville Stadium at 3pm was called off because only 11 players are left in the SA camp.
Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba appears to have made an error of judgment by trying to retain the big-name, local-based players from PSL clubs who did duty in matches against Gambia and Angola for a Chan qualifier in the off-season.
But Sundowns, Ajax, Wits and SuperSport have withdrawn their players from the squad.
One PSL official said his club wrote to Safa last week to inform them they would not be releasing players for the Chan qualifier, but received no response.
PSL clubs were apparently not pleased their players were being retained for another week, denying them an off-season for a qualifier for the Chan, a tournament never viewed with much seriousness in South Africa.
Pirates have recalled three players, saying it was because they needed their passports to apply for visas for a trip to play Congo’s AC Leopards away next week.
“We only withdrew Thabo Matlaba, Patrick Phungwayo and Oupa Manyisa because I need their passports to apply for visas in time for the trip,” Bucs administrative officer Floyd Mbele said. “Thamsanqa Gabuza is suspended against Leopards, and Tshepo Gumede is not part of the CAF Confederation Cup squad, so they are still with Bafana. And we told Safa to let us know if we can make anyone else available.”
Bafana were due to hold a practice session this morning at 10am. Mashaba was left scrambling to try to procure more players in a meeting held with his Safa bosses late yesterday afternoon.
South Africa drew 0-0 with Gambia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Durban on Saturday, then beat Angola 2-1 in a friendly on Tuesday.
Mashaba’s plan was to utilise the local-based members of that squad against Mauritius. That would have meant players such as Wits’ Thulani Hlatshwayo, SuperSport’s Clayton Daniels and Thuso Phala, Ajax’s Rivaldo Coetzee and Sundowns’ Bongani Zungu would be retained without an off-season break for another week.
Mashaba had initially said he would utilise the Under-23 players for the Chan. The official Safa press release stated only that the training was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
Safa communications head Dominic Chimhavi was part of the meeting late yesterday afternoon.
He later said Safa and Mashaba were trying to contact PSL, NFD and Vodacom League clubs to try to make up for the missing numbers in the Bafana squad.
The 2016 Chan, a tournament organised for national squads made up of local-based players, will be held in Rwanda from January 16 to February 7.