Clubless Masalesa pulled out of Chan qualifier

14 July 2017 - 07:25 By Marc Strydom
Lehlogonolo Masalesa. File photo.
Lehlogonolo Masalesa. File photo.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Lehlogonolo Masalesa is not eligible for Stuart Baxter's developmental Bafana Bafana side to face Botswana in an African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier tomorrow and has been withdrawn from the squad.

The former Orlando Pirates defensive midfielder had initially been included in the squad for the qualifier as he is currently out of contract with Greek club Larissa.

However, Baxter yesterday received confirmation from the Confederation of African Football that Masalesa was not eligible because CAF rules for the tournament stated a player must be registered with a club in his country.

Mamelodi Sundowns' fringe midfielder Sibusiso Khumalo has been called up to replace Masalesa.

"[It's] a very unfortunate process because we got the shout first that Fifa rules say an unregistered player can play in an official tournament.

"But when we were sitting in there and I said that I wanted it confirmed because I guessed CAF could have some particular rule themselves as Chan has got to be about local players.

[Masalesa] had to have a local registration, which he obviously does not have. Now, if we had known about that earlier, we could have probably made some plan to get some sort of temporary loan to a little club somewhere. But now we have no time.

"It's a blow because we had him in the starting lineup. And we will have to change the shape of the way we want to play," Baxter said yesterday.