The right-back was set to join the squad yesterday morning, but he was not released by his club. Only striker Tokelo Rantie arrived yesterday from Sweden, as expected. Igesund expressed his displeasure ahead of the squad’s morning workout at the match venue, and said Safa will report the matter to world governing body Fifa.
“Anele was supposed to leave on Monday. He then asked if we could book the flight for later because the club wanted to negotiate. The club phoned me and asked if we could please release the player because of important games coming up, but I explained that we can’t release the player,” said an exasperated Igesund.
“Last night I got a call from the coach telling me that Anele got injured. I don’t know exactly where and how he got injured, but I think it’s all fabricated. I even suggested if he was injured they must put him on a flight and we will have our doctors check him here and treat him. I’m really annoyed that a club of Genk’s stature can behave that way on a Fifa date. When I spoke with the player he was excited to come but he said his club wanted to hold him back.
“Safa will have to report this matter to Fifa and take the necessary steps. I never complain, so we’ll get on with the job with whoever we have. This is what we’ve got and we’ll do our best.
“As far as a replacement goes I don’t want to bring a player just for the sake of bringing a player. There’s Tshepo Gumede, Tyson (Thulani Hlatshwayo) and even Thabo Nthethe who can play at right-back. It’s not a great situation but we’ll do what we have to,” said the Bafana Bafana head coach.
Igesund’s squad selection for this match and Saturday’s outing against Burkina Faso has seen more changes than he anticipated. First he released six Orlando Pirates players so that they could prepare for Saturday’s African Champions League clash against Egypt’s Zamalek in Orlando. Then at the weekend two more players, Innocent Mdledle and Bennett Chenene, withdrew owing to injuries, followed by the release early this week of defender Bevan Fransman so that he could be with his wife for the birth of their child.
The changes opened the way for AmaZulu left-back Marc van Heerden to join the squad, although it’s a long shot that he will see any action. Regardless, the Usuthu defender looked forward to the experience.
“It is a great opportunity. I feel very privileged to be amongst this group of players,” said the left-back. “Gordon is a very good coach, he’s friendly and I have a lot of respect for him. Making the team is like a dream come true; it’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little boy. I can safely say it’s an item I can tick off from my bucket list. I’m very proud of my selection; getting a call-up is huge for me and my family.”
If it’s any consolation the Super Eagles will fly without midfield ace Obi Mikel, who according to head coach Stephen Keshi has succumbed to a stomach ache. Keshi brushed aside suggestions that this clash represented a chance for Nigeria’s 1994 African champions side, which he captained, to settle a score with Bafana Bafana after they were prevented from defending their title in South Africa in 1996. South Africa won that edition of the African Cup of Nations.
The African champions earlier saw the withdrawal of striker Emmanuel Emenike, but Keshi said their team was not built around individual players and that the sum of the parts was what mattered most.
The charity match in aid of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is Nigeria’s first outing since the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil almost two months ago.