The SA Football Association (Safa) has decided against organising a friendly game for Bafana Bafana and has allowed the players to return to their respective clubs.
This came after Zambia had cancelled Saturday’s friendly match against Bafana in Lusaka as a protest against the xenophobic violence in Gauteng, and after Madagascar – Zambia’s replacement – also pulled out of the hastily scheduled match which was to have taken place at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
The possibility of having a run-out against a local club team had been discussed, but this was decided against.
“The decision to release the South African players was taken after a meeting with the players and technical staff on Thursday night,” read part of a statement from the footballing governing body.
“The South African Football Association (Safa) has taken a decision to release the players who had been in camp for the week to go back to their clubs.”
This means that Molefi Ntseki misses out on the chance to get the first game under his belt since being appointed as the Bafana head coach last Friday.
The concern going forward for Safa is that it will likely now become very challenging for them to arrange matches against any other African nation, certainly within the current political climate.
It could also limit South Africa’s chances of hosting international tournaments in the near future.
Perhaps looking to try and counter such a scenario, Safa commented:
“South African football is proud of its record of hosting safe and incident-free international matches in our stadiums. We hosted numerous Fifa and Caf competitions including the Afcon and Fifa Confederations Cup, the Fifa World Cup as well as major club events.
“South Africa’s record is second to none. On Tuesday, we hosted an Olympic qualifier between Banyana Banyana and Botswana at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg. This match, consistent with our history of hosting major football and other sporting events, was totally incident-free.”
Bafana begin their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers on November 11, with an away match against Ghana. Also in Group C are Sudan, as well either Mauritius or Sao Tomé e Príncipe.
Before that, there is one more Fifa international break scheduled for October 7 to 15, which will probably be Ntseki’s only chance to run the rule over his team before the Afcon qualifiers.
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo