Woes follow Bafana to Equatorial Guinea
The national soccer team’s tumultuous start to the year followed Bafana Bafana to Equatorial Guinea
Published: 2012/01/05 07:21:59 AM
THE national soccer team’s tumultuous start to the year followed Bafana Bafana to Equatorial Guinea when coach Pitso Mosimane’s charges arrived in the West African country on Tuesday to find they had no accommodation.
Bafana face Equatorial Guinea tomorrow in a friendly international that will be used to officially open one of the venues for the African Nations Cup — which begins on January 21 — and Mosimane’s original plans for a first training session on arrival on Tuesday were scuttled by the accommodation bungle.
The South African contingent of players and officials was forced to spend the day milling around in Bata until the hosts eventually sorted everything out well into the night.
Bafana had their first training session yesterday and it remains to be seen if the chaos affects their performance tomorrow.
Mosimane’s preparations got off to a shaky start when premiership sides Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows all rejected call-up letters for their players. Bafana failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup and the clubs felt they were well within their rights to prevent their players from participating in what has been reduced to a training exercise for Mosimane.
The players from the three sides form the core of the squad and Mosimane was forced to settle on what now looks like an unrecognisable Bafana line-up.
As if that was not enough, Belgium-based goalkeeper Darren Keet was withdrawn from the squad this week after his club refused him permission to travel to Bata.
He has since been replaced by Siyabonga Mpontshana, from Platinum Stars.
And continuing in the chaotic vein, Santos player Wayne Arendse was forced to stay behind in SA after the Bafana management discovered that his passport had expired.
Arendse is expected in Bata today and will have very little time to adapt ahead of the kickoff.
Bafana return to SA after the game and begin preparations for friendlies against Zambia (on January 11) and Ghana (January 14).
Mosimane will at least get a chance to see what the fuss is all about when midfielder May Mahlangu finally takes to the field in a Bafana jersey.
Mahlangu was voted the player of the year in Sweden recently, but has never won a Bafana cap.
“This is an honour for me to be called up to the Bafana Bafana squad,” Mahlangu said.
“I have been keeping hope alive that some day my efforts will be rewarded. But I never gave up because I knew the coach could only select a certain number of players to represent their country.
“Now that my time has come, I can only do my best. It is a good feeling to be a part of this team.
“I have been doing very well for my club, and I guess that is the reason why I have been given this opportunity to play for my country.
“I had a chance to represent Sweden but I was almost certain that my turn would come, rather than change my allegiance.”
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Siyabonga Mpontshana (Platinum Stars), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Thanda Royal Zulu)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Lierse FC), Morgan Gould (Supersport United), Eric Mathoho (Bloemfontein Celtic), Gilbert Rudiger and Ayanda Gcaba (both Free State Stars), Wayne Arendse (Santos), Patrick Phungwayo ( Bidvest Wits), Nazeer Allie (Ajax Cape Town)
Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane and George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs), Daylon Claasen (Lierse FC), George Maluleka and Granwald Scott (both Ajax) Mzikayise Mashaba (Stars), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg FC)
Strikers: Ryan Chapman (Wits), Siyabonga Nontshinga (Jomo Cosmos), Lehlohonolo Majoro (Chiefs), Bradley Grobler (Goztepe Izmir FC)