SA coach Notoane faces tough balancing ahead of CHAN qualifier against Lesotho
South Africa have been hit by a slew of withdrawals ahead of their African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier with Lesotho as coach David Notoane faces the difficult balancing act of selecting a squad that provides preparation for the Africa Uncder-23 Championship qualifiers versus the players he has available.
Coach David Notoane faces a difficult balancing act as he has to select a squad that also serves as preparation for the Africa Under-23 Championship qualifiers.
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The two-legged tie against Lesotho starts away in the Mountain Kingdom on Sunday‚ with the return leg to be played the following weekend‚ coinciding with the start of the Absa Premiership.
With CHAN only open to locally-based players‚ Notoane had been hoping to use the core of his COSAFA Cup squad to continue to prepare for September’s Under-23 Afcon qualifier with Zimbabwe‚ but has been hit by withdrawals and injuries.
Many clubs are not prepared to release players at such a sensitive stage of pre-season‚ despite the fact the matches count for official international caps.
“It is a balancing act‚” Notoane tells TimesLIVE.
“We have to take into account that we will also need players for the Afcon [in Egypt in November]‚ which also falls outside of FIFA International dates‚ so it is about how hard do you push [with clubs]?
“So we have had to find a good balance between the direction that we wanted to go and what is practically possible to have now.
“Also‚ take Teboho Mokoena and Jamie Webber at SuperSport United as an example. We wanted them‚ but they will likely form part of the squad for the first‚ second or third PSL matches of the season.
“That also makes me happy because then they are playing for their club‚ which is exactly want I want to see going into the Afcon qualifiers.”
Reeve Frosler has also been withdrawn by Kaizer Chiefs‚ while defender Justice Chabalala has been held back to play in the Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday rather than represent his country.
“[Cape Town City’s] Zukile Kewuti is also unavailable‚ which is a real pity because he is a very good prospect and a very competitive midfielder.
"We also believe he has a chance with Bafana Bafana‚ so we wanted to look at him‚” Notoane says.
“Sibusiso Mabiliso [from AmaZulu] is not coming‚ while [goalkeeper] Mondli Mpoto got injured playing for Bloemfontein Celtic.
"Grant Margeman only recently returned to Ajax Cape Town for pre-season after the COSAFA Cup so they wanted him to spend time with their squad‚ and Thendo Mukumela is also injured.
“So it is challenging‚ but it affords other players the opportunity to be involved.”
Despite the withdrawals‚ Notoane has been pleased with his interaction with coaches across the country‚ and acknowledges that many are entering a critical phase of their pre-season.
“I must acknowledge the open communication we have had with coaches‚ there has been really good interaction and I am very appreciative of that.
"They are very involved in their pre-seasons‚ some teams are even out of the country with that‚ so we have had to be realistic about who is available.”
Notoane is building up to September’s final round of Under-23 Afcon qualification‚ which does fall on FIFA dates and in turn serves as the Olympic Games preliminaries‚ but says qualifying for CHAN is also vitally important in this regard.
“The CHAN finals are in January and that would be a big boost to our January-July programme ahead of the Olympic Games‚" he said.
"So we are very keen to qualify.”