Who is to blame for Andile Jali bun­gle?

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI in Polok­wane tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za

Heads must roll at the SA Foot­ball Association (Safa) fol­low­ing fur­ther mis­in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the al­leged sus­pen­sion of Andile Jali.

The na­tion was duped into be­liev­ing that the KV Oos­tende mid­fielder was sus­pended for Fri­day’s World Cup Qual­i­fier against Sene­gal, only to re­alise later that this was not at all the case.

An el­i­gi­ble Jali would have been a sure starter fol­low­ing his five-star per­for­mance against Burk­ina Faso last month, but he was left on the bench. Fol­low­ing the dance of shame in 2011 in Mbombela, when Bafana thought they had qual­i­fied for the 2012 Africa Cup of Na­tions (Afcon), one would have thought Safa had learnt its les­son.

Some­one at Safa seems to be sleep­ing on the job and the Jali saga has once again ex­posed the in­ept ad­min­is­tra­tion of the na­tional association. Coach Stu­art Bax­ter was at pains to ex­plain what re­ally hap­pened with­out ap­por­tion­ing the blame to any­one.

Bax­ter said his elab­o­ra­tion could be “mis­in­ter­preted and make a lot of peo­ple look silly. Im­me­di­ately it was bandied about that Andile was sus­pended; we then got some sort of cor­re­spon­dence from Fifa and the ref­eree’s re­port was wrong. We acted on that ini­tially un­til Andile him­self flagged it up and we started dig­ging around.”

The question is why, when it was clear that the mid­fielder was el­i­gi­ble to play, did Bax­ter leave him on the bench and only in­tro­duce him later in the match?

“We were wor­ried that if we put him in the team any­way, it would be the case, like Ethiopia, when they had some­thing like that. We were scared, but I said to them I have not pre­pared with Andile be­cause in my mind he was sus­pended and I can’t just throw him in the team – that would be am­a­teur­ish. I’m not gonna pe­nalise any player be­cause of other peo­ple hav­ing prob­lems in their cor­re­spon­dence.”

Bax­ter said one of­fi­cial re­port he saw said Jali scored the open­ing goal against Burk­ina Faso and he did not re­ceive a yel­low card.

“So it was very am­bigu­ous to the point that we were ner­vous about se­lect­ing him and we all made the de­ci­sion to put him on the bench.

“With­out point­ing fin­gers, that was the in­for­ma­tion I was given un­til 48 hours ago, when I was told the op­po­site,” Bax­ter said.

In 2011, Bafana thought a draw against Sierra Leone was enough to qual­ify them for the 2012 Afcon, think­ing their su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence over Niger would see them top the group. This was not the case as CAF uses the head-to­head re­sults when teams are tied.

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