Bobby slams Gordon’s squad selection

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Kaizer Chiefs team manager Bobby Motaung has launched a blistering attack on Gordon Igesund, pictured, after the Bafana Bafana coach selected six Amakhosi players in his squad for next months African Nations Championships.

Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs team manager Bobby Motaung has launched a blistering attack on Gordon Igesund after the Bafana Bafana coach selected six Amakhosi players in his squad for next month’s African Nations Championship.

Emphasising that Chiefs won’t release the players - captain Itumeleng Khune, Tefo Mashamaite, Tsepo Masilela, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker - Motaung accused Igesund of “lacking respect”, being “lazy” and treating Premier Soccer League teams with disdain, while using the national team as his personal fiefdom.

“We wrote a letter to the PSL stating that we won’t be able to release our players because we have a tight schedule next year. I also spoke to the (Bafana) team manager (Barney Kujane) and made it clear our players should be excused,” Motaung told The Star.

“But I’m not surprised that Gordon went ahead and picked them because he clearly does not respect us. He runs the national team as if it is a club side. Why doesn’t he select players from other teams? There are only five matches in January. What about all those teams that won’t be playing any game during that period?”

Speaking at Monday’s press conference, Igesund insisted he had spoken to “all coaches” who agreed to release the players for the camp which begins Thursday ahead of the CHAN, which Bafana kick off on January 11 in Cape Town against neighbours Mozambique.

“I had discussions with the coaches and the undertaking was that players would be made available. I’m thankful that they gave me full support. It’s been a challenging past few weeks, but in the end we reached agreement,” Igesund said.

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Stuart Baxter with Bobby Motaung and assistant coach Doctor Khumalo. Photo: Steve Haag

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While it is understood Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter was eager to assist Igesund, the PSL’s decision to slot Amakhosi’s high-profile fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns into the January programme is said to have changed his mind.

But in any case, even if he wanted to offer assistance, Baxter’s hands would be tied now that Motaung has toughened his stance following on Monday’s announcement.

“We told the players that they should not report to the national camp, and we are not going to change that. Gordon is lazy. He makes a mockery of the talent in this country by keeping on selecting the same players. What he’s doing is an insult to the country. We have been very patriotic, availing our players all the time. But next month we will start preparations for the African Champions League. This is the time for Gordon to show his competence and quality as a national coach, and show he can tap into the vast talent in the country,” Motaung said.

Igesund could have a further headache as Sundowns, too, might withdraw their five players, The Star understands.

“The fact is as it stands, teams fixtured to play in January don’t have players in the squad, except Chiefs and Sundowns. So if Chiefs pull out their players, we won’t have a choice but to do the same,” said a Sundowns source who refused to be named because the club had yet to officially react to the squad announcement.

Igesund, meanwhile, left for a two-day holiday in Cape Town and should return to Johannesburg ahead of Thursday’s start of a planned three-day camp.

But if Chiefs indeed stick to their guns and refuse to release their players, he may struggle to find replacements, with all teams now on Christmas recess.

The squad he named on Monday, however, has balance about it, although it is now almost certain it will change.

Moeneeb Josephs makes a return to the side after more than a year in the international wilderness, and there were also first-time call-ups for his Bidvest Wits teammates Ryan Chapman and Kwanda Mngonyama.

Bafana will play all their Group A games in Cape Town, starting off with the clash against Mozambique’s Mambas on January 11, followed by Mali on January 15 and the epic tie against one of the tournament favourites Nigeria (January 19).

Igesund had hoped to release Chiefs and Sundowns players after this game for them to fulfil their clubs’ league meeting on January 23.

Bafana squad for CHAN:

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Siyabonga Mpontshane

Defenders: Thabo Nthethe, Tshepo Gumede, Tefo Mashamaite, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Kwanda Mngonyama, Vuyo Mere, Bryce Moon, Tsepo Masilela, Tebogo Langerman

Midfielders: Ryan Chapman, Hlompho Kekana, Lerato Chabangu, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Jabulani Shongwe, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Sibusiso Vilakazi

Strikers: Katlego Mashego, Bernard Parker, Edward Manqele

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