Thursday Nov 07, 2019. 11:13
South Africa Football Association (SAFA) technical director Neil Tovey says it is “downright diabolical” that the side may go into their African Under-23 Cup of Nations opener against Zambia with at most 14 players as they battle with clubs for their release.
Coach David Notoane has a skeleton squad for Saturday’s opener having had to reach largely into the country’s second tier for players to attend the continental championship as top-flight clubs held onto their players until the start of the FIFA International window on November 11.
“It is a disgrace. It is downright diabolical that they cannot have the best players,” Tovey was quoted by AFP.
“This is a sad state of affairs – begging clubs for players. The squad was changed six or seven times in 10 days before the final announcement.
“It has been an absolute nightmare few weeks trying to put it together. Clubs must stop being selfish in their approach.”
SAFA have long been at loggerheads with Premier Soccer League clubs for the release of junior international players – and even senior at times for the COSAFA Cup and African Nations Championship qualifiers.
The riches on offer in the South African game make clubs reluctant to give in to the national cause, even for a competition as important as the Under-23 Nations Cup, which serves as a qualification tournament for the Olympic Games.
Notoane is likely to have a progressively stronger squad as the tournament goes on, but by the time he reaches full-strength, his side may have lost their chance to reach the knockout stages.