Orlando Pirates say they will unreservedly release their players to Bafana Bafana should Gordon Igesund include them in the squad to face Morocco next weekend.
Igesund was this afternoon expected to name the squad to face the Moroccans in an away friendly in Agadir on October 11, but with Pirates having requested that their Telkom Knockout fixture against Black Aces be postponed to next week, it was thought the national coach would be requested to exclude the Buccaneers. “We won’t make such a request,” said Pirates administrator Floyd Mbele yesterday.
“We know it’s a Fifa week so our players, if selected, will be released for national duty.”
Mbele said Pirates had asked that their match with Aces be shifted from tomorrow to next Tuesday because of this Saturday’s crunch African Champions League semifinal first leg against Esperance (Orlando Stadium, 7pm).
“We were in a difficult situation, faced with this match soon after the MTN8 final (against Platinum Stars last Saturday) and a few days before facing Esperance.
“We looked at our squad and decided we should request to play next week, but we were fully aware that it would be an international week. Because we have players returning from injuries, we thought there won’t be a problem.”
In his last camp, Igesund named as many as six Bucs players in the side and, should he do the same today, that would leave Roger de Sa’s team very thin heading into the Cup fixture against Aces a week today at Mbombela Stadium.
Patrick Phungwayo picked up a long-term injury in the weekend final defeat to Stars, while Sifiso Myeni was also withdrawn at the last minute from that fixture due to a muscle strain.
Mbele, however, insisted Pirates would comply regardless of whether Igesund’s selection left the team emaciated for their cup fixture.
“If Andile Jali and Oupa Manyisa are selected, we have Vieira (Lehlogonolo Masalesa) and Bibo (Thandani Ntshumayelo) who can play in their places,” he said.
Pirates’ most difficult headache would come in the goalkeeping department, should Igesund – as expected – include Senzo Meyiwa, who has been one of Itumeleng Khune’s deputies for the past year.
Ghanaian Fatau Dauda and the untested Brighton Mhlongo would have to compete for the Pirates No1 jersey in his absence.
“Dauda is an international goalkeeper, and if Senzo goes this would open a chance for him to impress,” Mbele said.
Dauda is yet to make his Pirates debut and has been missing from the match-day squad since signing in August.
He was included in Ghana’s squad last month, however, and even he could be missing next week as the Black Stars play Egypt in the first leg of their World Cup play-off.
But Mbele stressed the Ghana FA hadn’t sent a call-up letter yet.
“If he’s called up, it may be possible to negotiate with the Ghana FA,” he said.
But he ruled out negotiating with Igesund to exclude some Pirates players.
“We don’t want to set a bad precedent. The national coach can select whoever he wants from our team, but our match against Aces will still go ahead.”
Igesund, meanwhile, is not expected to make many changes from the side that destroyed Botswana last month.
Among the overseas contingent, Thulani Serero, the Ajax Amsterdam attacker who was kicked out of camp on the eve of the match, will be a notable absentee due to an injury.
Poland-based Daylon Claasen could also be included, while May Mahlangu, of Swedish club Helsingborg, is still battling injury.
Locally, Igesund may have to reconsider Kaizer Chiefs defender Morgan Gould, but also keep an eye on players he may need for the African Nations Championship, which kicks off in Cape Town on January 11. - The Star