Kirsten Nematandani, the president of the South African Football Association (Safa), admitted on Thursday they had bungled Bafana Bafana’s upcoming friendly fixture, which is now due to be played against Kenya.
“We admit that things did not go the right way because the game was announced before we signed a contract,” Nematandani said at a media conference.
“We have learned from this.”
Bafana Bafana were expected to face Burkina Faso in Rustenburg on Wednesday but announced a week before the match they would face the East African nation instead.
The fixture change was announced on Wednesday, a day after Safa CEO Leslie Sedibe was removed from his post as problems within the national body’s administration continued to mount, including confusion surrounding the South African under-23 team — AmaGlug-glug — and their 2011 All Africa Games qualifier against Angola. The team had also not been entered into the qualifiers following another administrative bungle at Safa, but were slotted in following the withdrawal of Namibia.
Bafana Bafana’s match was initially scheduled for this past weekend, but with Angola getting confirmation of South Africa’s participation in the tournament qualifiers late from the Confederation of African Football (CAF), they switched their home leg at the Citadela Stadium in Luanda to February 6.
Nematandani initially said there had only been speculation that Bafana would play Burkina Faso, and the two nations had agreed to face each other only in principle. He said no announcement had been made.
However, after a member of the media pointed out the match had been included on the fixture list on the Fifa website, and therefore the international governing body had been informed, Nematandani said they would look for options to ensure clarity with the national associations of opposing teams in future.
‘Water under the bridge’
“Perhaps we need to have up front two-year friendlies that the coach will identify,” he said.
“We should own up when things don’t go right. We have no problem with that.”
Bafana Bafana acting team manager Barney Kujane said they had been given the runaround by Burkina Faso’s football officials.
“Burkina Faso was approached by the association [Safa] in writing,” Kujane said.
“They responded in writing and we sent them a contract. They did not sign the contract and we phoned them many times but they did not respond. We eventually found them in Paris and they said they were not in a position to sign a contract.”
Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, said they had tried in vain to find a North African opponent.
“We would have preferred a North African team,” Mosimane said.
“They have the same mentality and a similar style of play. We hoped to play Burkina Faso, but while they agreed in principle to play us, they withdrew at the last minute. We spoke to Libya and they indicated they wanted to play us, but they also withdrew.
“We then wanted to play Burundi and they also showed interest, but we settled with Kenya.”
Mosimane said the team would put administrative issues aside and focus on next week’s game in preparation for their 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt in March.
“We will channel our energy into the game against Kenya,” he said.
“Whatever has happened is water under the bridge.” — Sapa