JOHANNESBURG - Dennis Mumble, the Safa CEO, was furious on Sunday as he promised that the country’s mother body will come down like a ton of bricks on clubs impeding national progress.
That Amajita lost their opening Fifa Under-20 World Cup match on Sunday had a lot to do with the unavailability of key players and Mumble said Safa will deal with the guilty parties accordingly.
“We are now beyond this thing of going down on our knees whenever we need players (for the national teams),” a clearly incensed Mumble said. “We are going to punish them. And they must understand why because we cannot have a situation where clubs put their interests ahead of the national teams’.”
The clubs in question are Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits and Nedbank Cup finalists SuperSport United who held on to three key Amajita players.
The Clever Boys’ Phakamani Mahlambi has not travelled to South Korea after the club said he has a hamstring injury while his teammate Reeve Frosler only left for the World Cup following Wits’ victory over Polokwane City on Wednesday.
SuperSport’s Teboho Mokoena was still with his club on Saturday when they booked their place in the Nedbank Cup final with a penalty shoot-out victory over Chippa United.
The trio’s absence left Thabo Senong’s team bereft of key players who might have proven crucial in a match the South Africans took by the scruff of the neck early on only to let it go after the break.
An early goal by Grant Margeman appeared to have set Amajita on course for a brilliant start as they matched the Japanese for pace and guile.
But that good old South African problem of failing to kill off matches was once again evident in Suwon as Amajita wasted chances by the bagful with top striker Luther Singh the main culprit as he hit a low shot that got blocked when directing the ball higher would have borne better fruit.
There was also a chance for Keletso Makgalwa but he headed wide from close range.
The Japanese always looked dangerous going forward and almost equalised via Koki Ogawa, whose attempt rattled the upright as South African goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto looked well-beaten.
But then early after the break, there was no denying Ogawa as he slotted home the leveller. Once they equalised, Japan piled on the pressure and it was not surprising that they got the winner some 20 minutes before the end through Ritsu Doan.
Try as they might to find the equaliser, the South Africans just couldn’t break down the opposition and are now left with a mountain to climb if they are to progress to the knockout stages.
It is no wonder Mumble is peeved.
“All teams have been cooperative except for these two. We are going to have another DC where a final decision is going to be made. And the message is that we are no longer going to take matters such as these lying down. We can either fine, terminate or suspend any of these two teams.”
Next up for Amajita is Italy, 1-0 losers against Uruguay yesterday, on Wednesday.