Bafana lament the tim­ing of friendlies

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI in Uyo, Nige­ria ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Some Bafana Bafana play­ers have raised con­cerns over the sched­ul­ing of Tues­day’s friendly match against Zam­bia.

The SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) this week an­nounced the friendly against Chipolopolo just a day af­ter Bafana get back from Nige­ria.

Bafana only ar­rive in the coun­try to­mor­row morn­ing, hav­ing spent a long time trav­el­ling from Uyo to La­gos and fi­nally Johannesburg, and then they have to head straight to Rusten­burg for the match.

On the other hand, Zam­bia, who were in­volved in an Af­con qual­i­fier against Mozam­bique in their own back yard in Ndola, have a short trip to make to South Africa.

Some play­ers mum­bled that the sched­ul­ing of the game meant added time in camp. They feel the game is ill-timed and has no sig­nif­i­cance as most of them are in re­cess.

Coach Stu­art Bax­ter said he was not sur­prised by the play­ers’ com­plaints, hint­ing that he was also not happy with the sched­ul­ing be­cause he did not know about it.

He said Safa told him that this was how previous coaches pre­ferred it and there was noth­ing he could do about it.

How­ever, he said the team was obliged to hon­our the fix­ture.

“I’m one with the play­ers on this, but it’s okay. We know the obli­ga­tions and we just have to hang in there.

“It’s not easy be­cause we land on Mon­day morn­ing and play 24 hours later. In a per­fect world, I wouldn’t want it that way for many rea­sons.”

He said that if the sea­son was still on, it would have cre­ated is­sues with clubs. “You can imag­ine what the clubs would have said when we sent their play­ers back and, 48 hours later, they are in­volved in a game. Sched­ul­ing, con­tact with clubs and con­fi­dence be­come is­sues.” Bax­ter al­ready said he would ring in the changes for this match as most of the young­sters are ex­pected to fea­ture. He men­tioned that the likes of Lorenzo Gordinho, Ab­bubaker Mo­bara and Percy Tau would get a full run.

“It’s a chance to show­case the fu­ture of South African foot­ball, and to play young­sters and see what they can of­fer. Let’s see what Mo­bara, Percy and Lorenzo can do to­gether and bring some ex­pe­ri­ence to help them along.”

Bax­ter said the game was not a dud, but em­pha­sised that he would not pick the same team that played Nige­ria yes­ter­day.

“Win­ning is im­por­tant to me, but is it im­por­tant for the coun­try if one player gets 100 caps and another is still on six?” he asked. “I know I will take stick if we lose, but at least I know I am do­ing the right thing.”

He said the re­sults of the Nige­ria game would not have any in­flu­ence on his team se­lec­tion.

He also said it was im­por­tant to have buy-in from all stake­hold­ers and he was in the process of sell­ing his vi­sion to the clubs, coaches and all South Africans.

“Peo­ple must know where we are com­ing from so they can un­der­stand our de­ci­sions. The im­por­tant thing is we need to have ev­ery­one’s buy-in, even if not ev­ery­one will agree with us.”

Safa spokesper­son Do­minic Chimhavi de­clined to com­ment.

HEAD HON­CHO Bafana coach Stu­art Bax­ter

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