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09 Jan 2008 11:57
The belated, but soothing pronouncement from Bafana Bafana administrative manager Sipho Nkumane on Tuesday night that “all the players are now in camp” must have sounded like music to the ears of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
The last three players to arrive were contentious and controversial Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, Maccabi Haifa fullback Tsepo Masilela and Bloemfontein Celtic fullback Tumelo Nhlapo, a late replacement for the injured Vuyo Mere.
The full squad of 23 players for the African Nations Cup were due at Bafana’s training camp in Durban on Sunday in accordance with Fifa regulations—but the delayed arrival of Pienaar, in particular, has been the outcome of a dogged battle of attrition between Parreira and Everton manager David Moyes.
The Everton manager had tried every trick in the book—and a few not yet chronicled—in attempting to delay the departure of his lithe South Africa midfielder until after Tuesday night’s first-leg Carling Cup semifinal against Chelsea.
He was preceded at the South African camp by Masilela, who arrived in South Africa on Tuesday morning after claiming to have missed a connecting flight from Israel on Sunday.
Masilela, indeed, joined Bafana’s late training session on Tuesday, after which Nkumane was able to provide further reassuring news for Parreira that “all the players appear to be fit and there are no further injuries at this stage.”—Sapa
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