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Players pull out of Australasia games

Bafana Bafana and the SA Football Association (Safa) are facing a major crisis following the withdrawal of players from the squad to face Australia and New Zealand in friendly international games next week.

“I can’t give any details right now,” Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said on Monday.

“We are trying to solve the problem and we’ll be in a position to give details of the situation at a media conference at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday morning.”

The exodus of players from glamour clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, in particular, threatens to leave Bafana with a disconcerting mountain to climb in Sydney next Monday. Australia intended giving their full-scale squad a run-out before next month’s World Cup tournament in Brazil.

Asked if the Bafana squad would be training at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday, a clearly disturbed Igesund said he could not conduct a training session without any players.

An official connected to the Bafana squad, who asked not to be named, said: “At this stage, we have more officials and invited media booked to go to Australia than players. It’s a disaster if something can’t be sorted out.”

The games against Australia, on May 26, and New Zealand in Auckland on May 30, do not fall in a period sanctioned by Fifa for international matches. Players, therefore, are not obligated to make themselves available to go on tour.

The Bafana squad is due to leave for Australia on Wednesday.

Safa officials are discussing the Bafana player withdrawals with their counterparts in the Premier Soccer League.

A week ago Crystal Palace-based midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi pulled out of the squad as he would be having an operation to correct a leg injury which had bothered him during the past English Premiership season.

Defender Siyanda Xulu, who plays for Russian club FC Rostov, followed suit. They were replaced by Mamelodi Sundowns’ Hlompho Kekane and ostensibly Eric Mathoho of Chiefs.

But now the trickle has turned into a torrent, with players claiming they were exhausted after a gruelling season, culminating in the Nedbank Cup Final last Saturday.

The two friendly games in Australasia were of significance for Igesund, whose future as Bafana coach was being questioned. Positive results in these two games could play an important role in his future as national coach.

– Sapa

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