Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana may be headed for a fresh row after the Buccaneers asked that their Telkom Knockout fixture against Black Aces be moved to next Tuesday.
Pirates were meant to visit Aces at Mbombela Stadium this Wednesday, but due to the fact that they required more time to prepare for Saturday’s African Champions League semi-final first leg against Esperance, the Bucs hierarchy requested the Premier Soccer League to move the cup tie.
But next week is a Fifa week and, with Bafana set for a friendly against Morocco on October 11, coach Gordon Igesund will require his full team, which over the last few months included as many as six Pirates players. Bafana leave for Morocco next Monday, a day before Bucs are to travel to Mbombela.
Igesund, who names his squad on Tuesday, insisted on Sunday, he was unaware the Pirates-Aces match had been moved to a Fifa week.
“It’s the first time I hear of this and I’m actually surprised that there can be a domestic game during a Fifa week. Maybe that was communicated to the association (Safa) but I’m not aware of it because it’s been a bit hectic with the elections taking place (at the weekend),” Igesund said.
The Bafana coach said he had no problem omitting Pirates from his squad when they are faced with Champions League games, like was the case when South Africa faced Nigeria last month and Bucs were to play Zamalek.
“I have a good relationship with Pirates and I will always give them a consideration for the Champions League. But it’s news to me that they have a game next week. If I pick players from both teams, let’s say Aces’ Mabhuti Khenyeza for instance, he will have to miss that game because we are leaving on Monday (October 7),” Igesund said.
In Bafana’s last camp for their game against Botswana, Igesund had included no fewer than six Pirates players: Senzo Meyiwa, Thabo Matlaba, Daine Klate, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali and Kermit Erasmus. He released the other five ahead of Bucs’ trip to Zamalek and kept Erasmus for the friendly against Zimbabwe as he’s not registered for the Champions League.
PSL general manager Derek Blanckensee said there was nothing untoward with the league acceding to Pirates’ request to move the game to a Fifa week. “When we got this request we involved Aces, and they agreed. In fact both clubs agreed in writing that irrespective of whether their players have been selected (for national teams), the match will go ahead as planned.
“Fifa don’t ban domestic matches during international weeks; that’s why when there’s the Africa Cup of Nations major leagues go on even as teams have lost players to the teams playing in the tournament,” Blanckensee reasoned.
But should Igesund again call up six Pirates players when he names his squad, they would be left thin going into a crucial cup match that comes a week after they surrendered the MTN8 to Platinum Stars.
Neither Pirates Roger de Sa nor Pirates administrator Floyd Mbele could be reached for comment on Sunday.