Bafana Bafana scrambling for players ahead of Cosafa Cup participation
A scramble for players continued for South Africa’s national team on Monday as Mandla Masango and Lebogang Phiri were both told to report for pre-season training at their European clubs.
The pair had been initially included in a makeshift squad assembled to defend the Cosafa Castle Cup with new Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter trying to cajole players out of Premier Soccer League clubs as well as promoting some of the squad that participated at last month’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Masango and Phiri would have been among the senior members but have now both been refused permission to participate and have to go to Europe for pre-season training
Masango was on loan at SuperSport United this season but that deal runs out on Friday.
With South Africa’s opening game of the competition being played on Sunday at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace‚ the South African Football Association needed permission from Masango’s Danish club Randers but they have refused.
Phiri has moved from Denmark to play for En Avant Guingamp in France‚ who have also said no to SAFA’s request.
Justin Webber from Stellenbosch FC of the National First Division and Mohau Mokate of Maritzburg United were drafted in as replacements.
Baxter is to join up with the squad on Tuesday with Thabo Senong having taken charge over the weekend and on Monday while Baxter was ending his time at SuperSport United in spectacular fashion by winning the Nedbank Cup.
South Africa will only knows the identity of their opponents after the completion of the first round on Friday but Sunday’s opening games at the Moruleng Stadium gave an indication of that likelihood that it will be either Angola or Tanzania.
Both won their opening matches with Tanzania 2-0 victors over Malawi and Angola edging Mauritius 1-0 in an ill tempered game in which the Angolans lost two key players to bad tackles from the over enthusiastic islanders.