21 May 2014
South African national football coach Gordon Igesund has been forced into making 11 changes to his squad of 18 players for international friendlies against Australia and New Zealand next week.
Bafana Bafana face the Socceroos in Sydney on 26 May, followed by a clash with the All Whites in Auckland on 30 May.
Gordon Igesund told the South African Football Association (Safa) that while the withdrawals had affected his plans, he was still confident that those selected would do the country proud.
‘Very capable players’
“I have put together a big squad of around 34, which is young and excited about playing for the country, so those who I have called as replacements are part of that broader squad. They are very capable players,” Igesund said in a statement.
“All of these players are part of the group that should participate in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches for 2015 in Morocco. This is an opportunity for those selected to raise their hands and be counted. They are young and should compete.”
Igesund also said there was little he could do about injuries, but added he had confidence in those players who had been selected for the South African national team.
“It has been a long season for most of these players and there is little I can do about injuries. Injuries are part of the game of football and there is no one to be blamed for this.”
After 11 players selected for the Antipodean internationals pulled out of the tour, Igesund admitted at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Tuesday that some of those players had been withdrawn by their clubs.
“I can confirm that players that are out are Oupa Manyisa, Thabo Matlaba, Itumeleng Khune, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Bernard Parker, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Tsepo Masilela, Siyanda Xulu, Andile Jali, and Sibusiso Vilakazi,” Igesund said.
“In their place I’ve called up Hlompho Kekana for KG, Senzo Meyiwa for Khune, Thuso Phala for ‘Shabba’, Thato Mokeke for Masilela, Kermit Erasmus for Parker and Eric Mathoho for Xulu. I also called up Vilakazi to replace Jali, but then he later got injured. In his place I’ve called up Teko Modise instead.”
He also said he had not heard back from all the newly called-up players, possibly because some of them might be on holiday outside of South Africa.
“This thing has come at a bad time for us. The players are human beings and need to go on holiday after a long season,” Igesund said.
Bafana Bafana leave for Australia on Thursday.