The Tokelo Rantie saga has still not been resolved by Safa. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – When are the South African Football Association (Safa) going to grow a pair? No, seriously.

The mother body need to stop with idle threats and pull the trigger already. The latest in a long line of bluffs from Safa came recently when the tug-of-war with clubs over the availability of players for the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea reared its ugly head for the umpteenth time.

Two Premier Soccer League clubs – Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United – were not budging on the release of young Phakamani Mahlambi, Reeve Frosler and Teboho Mokoena, arguing that these players were still very important in fulfilling their ambitions for the 2016/17 season.

To cut a long story short, Frosler and Mokoena (Mahlambi has been ruled out with an injury) have since joined their junior national teammates in Asia, but did not arrive in time for Amajita’s opening Group D match against Japan, which they lost 2-1.

There are suggestions that had the two missing players been available, the result could have been in favour of South Africa.

Safa chief executive Dennis Mumble told The Star newspaper that the association would not be backing off and would be throwing the book at both Wits and SuperSport for delaying the release of key players. But how many times have we heard these sorts of statements before?

In the past, Safa acted cowardly in dealing with senior national team players who have withdrawn from Bafana Bafana duty with bogus reasons.

How, then, can they deal with trying to punish institutions as big as football clubs, especially given that there is probably more red tape involved here than simply banning a footballer from featuring for the national team?

To date, we are still waiting for feedback on how the whole Tokelo Rantie saga was or is being handled. 

The Star soccer writer Mazola Molefe.

Stuart Baxter names his first Bafana squad on Thursday, and it has become clear in recent weeks that the national team could use a striker of Rantie’s calibre, but the dark cloud over his late withdrawal the last time Bafana had an away game is still hovering.

In October, the former Bournemouth forward failed to report for duty ahead of the opening 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou, leaving then-coach Shakes Mashaba with very limited options in attack for a must-win clash.

It was Mumble who quickly moved to tell all and sundry that Rantie would feel the full might of Safa’s rage. Six months down the line, this topic has been avoided like the plague.

So, pardon me for not buying into the idea that Wits and SuperSport aren’t going to get off the hook easily. The fact is that they probably will, and nothing will stop them repeating it again.

“We are now beyond this thing of going down on our knees whenever we need players (for the national teams),” the Safa chief executive told us earlier this week in his reaction to Amajita losing their opening game to Japan on Sunday.

“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.”

All just hot air, if you ask me.

The Star

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