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JOHANNESBURG: A distraught Moeneeb Josephs has retired from international football because he does not believe he is being given a fair opportunity to fight Itumeleng Khune for the Bafana No 1 goalkeeping spot.
The reason behind Josephs’s astonishing move was revealed yesterday by his close friend and teammate Benni McCarthy, who added that the 32-year-old shot-stopper was reduced to tears by the difficulty of his decision.
While his Pirates teammates Andile Jali, Siyabonga Sangweni and Oupa Manyisa have already travelled with Bafana to Phokeng to begin preparations for the upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Josephs was with the rest of the Buccaneers squad yesterday on a treble trophy tour of Joburg and Soweto.
“Slimkat” point-blank refused to discuss the reasons for his withdrawal, walking away from one television interview. And it was left to McCarthy to shed light on the matter.
“Moeneeb is a great professional and if I was in his situation, I would have done the same thing,” said McCarthy.
“You do everything possible to fight for the number one spot, but you know yourself you are never going to get the number one, because it’s fairly clear it’s Itumeleng Khune.
“He’s (Khune) a great goalkeeper who’s worked hard and put himself there … (but) in this country, there are a lot of great goalkeepers and you have to make it open for everyone to fight for the number one. It’s clearly not like that, it’s plain to see that the manager has his ideas of who is the number one, irrespective of other great goalkeepers around.
“So in an act of frustration it happens (you retire) when you get to 30 and you feel you are not achieving your goals, it is better to continue to do what makes you happy, to play football, club football.
“I think it’s sad he has pulled out of the national team, he’s an absolute gem.”
McCarthy added that Josephs had been deeply upset while discussing the decision with his friend. “He is my roommate and he was asking me for my input, and I said ‘You are on your own, I don’t want to advise you, make your decision, and whatever you decide, I am behind you’. When he explained his reasons, the man just broke down crying.
“I understand Moeneeb’s issues and hopefully it will work out for the best, and people won’t hate him.”
Safa revealed yesterday that Josephs had requested a meeting with Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane to explain his decision. “Mosimane has asked the player to pen a letter himself to explain the situation, before meeting him. The technical team is expected to make a decision on the way forward once they have received the letter from Josephs,” added a Safa statement.