Sport

Bafana coach wants players in UK released earlier for Afcon

Sapa

Gordon Igesund will travel to England to convince clubs there to release local players earlier to join the national squad ahead of Afcon tournament.

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund (Gallo)

Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund and his assistant Serame Letsoaka will travel to England to visit South African players based in that country.

The two coaches will leave shortly after announcing the SA squad that will take on reigning African champions Zambia on November 14 at FNB Stadium in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

During their visit, Igesund and Letsoaka will hold meetings with managers of the likes of Kagisho Dikgacoi of Crystal Palace, Dean Furman of Oldham Athletic and several other players.

The reason for the visit is to create a good working relationship with overseas-based players and their clubs, ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in January next year.

"According to FIFA rules, the players can only report for national duty 14 days before the start of the Afcon tournament," Igesund said.

"In this case, it will be the fifth of January.

"Our main aim in England will be to try and get the players released early from their clubs so they can join us at least 21 days before the start of Afcon.

"That means we would like to assemble the team around the Christmas festive period.

"This would be the perfect time to mould them into a unit because the past four matches have been mainly to look at different players and combinations."

Igesund added that the Afcon tournament was an important one for the country and as a result, Bafana would like to have the full squad assembled as soon as possible.

Tour of duty
"South Africa will reciprocate by not calling up some of those players when their clubs have important fixtures in future," Igesund explained.

"If we can get 60% of them on time, that will be an achievement. I believe with communication, sincerity and support we can make this happen."

Igesund said also on the agenda for the trip was the issue of Norwich City's Andrew Surman.

"I believe it is my responsibility to go and see him, find out from him whether he still wants to play for South Africa," Igesund said.

"I am not going there to beg him to play for us because if he is not interested then he won't deliver.

"I am also aware that he was approached before to represent Bafana Bafana but it just never happened, so we need to get to the bottom of this so we can move on.

"He is a very good player who has played for England at junior level, so it would be great to have him on board."

Time and programme permitting, Igesund and Letsoaka will also meet up with former Bafana captain Steven Pienaar, who has retired from international football.

After the clash against Zambia, the coaches also intend travelling to Greece, Belgium and Holland to meet the managers of the South African players based there to make the same request. – Sapa.

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