The ivory lin­ing to dark clouds

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MAT­SHE­LANE MAM­ABOLO Soc­cer Writer

THE SOUTH African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) could be on their way to a col­li­sion course with the PSL.

Safa’s decision to have Bafana Bafana host the Ivory Coast next Sun­day in a Nel­son Man­dela Chal­lenge match, smack bang in the mid­dle of the sea­son and out of the in­ter­na­tional cal­en­der date, seems to me a recipe for another one of those bat­tles be­tween lo­cal foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body and their pro­fes­sional wing.

Granted, there’ll be just one PSL match that week­end, the Telkom Knock­out fi­nal be­tween Plat­inum Stars and Su­perS­port United on the Satur­day but that doesn’t mean Shakes Mashaba will be able to call on play­ers from the rest of the other clubs in the league. Not with a full fix­ture of Absa Premier­ship matches sched­uled for the mid­week build­ing up to that week­end, as well as two and three days there­after.

But word from Safa is that there are on­go­ing, cor­dial talks be­tween them­selves and the PSL clubs that will see the Bafana coach be­ing able to field a strong side in liv­ing with the sta­tus of the man the match is be­ing played in hon­our of.

Safa have also said that they ex­pect the Ivory Coast to bring a strong squad. That, though, is highly un­likely given that most of the Ele­phants’ stars earn their liv­ing in Euro­pean Leagues.

But Mashaba has said he will prob­a­bly call on some of the na­tional Un­der-17 and Un­der-20 play­ers for the clash. He’d have no doubt used the Un­der-23 side were they in ex­is­tence.

With African Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fi­ca­tion se­cured, the match would have been an ideal plat­form for Mashaba to start pre­par­ing for the fi­nals. But, me­thinks, that he needs to do that with the core of the team he will be tak­ing to Equa­to­rial Guinea in Jan­uary.

And he won’t have that next week­end, mak­ing his plan to go with the younger play­ers all the more smarter – es­pe­cially given that it will help avoid the un­savoury club ver­sus coun­try sce­nario that looms large, Safa’s as­ser­tions to the con­trary, not­with­stand­ing.

So if any­thing, and with due re­spect to the coun­try’s for­mer pres­i­dent, the match against the Ivory Coast will be best used for the youth sides as part of their prepa­ra­tions for their re­spec­tive con­ti­nen­tal as­sign­ments next year.

Ama­jita are sched­uled to com­pete at the Africa Youth Cham­pi­onships in Sene­gal and the Un­der-17s in their own ver­sion of the com­pe­ti­tion in Niger.

With the coun­try on such a high fol­low­ing Bafana’s res­ur­rec­tion, the last thing we need is a bat­tle be­tween the two foot­ball bod­ies – es­pe­cially not be­cause of a match in hon­our of man seen the world over as a uni­fy­ing force.

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