Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is adamant that selected players must report for camp ahead of the African Nations Championship. Photo by Anesh Debiky

South Africa may have to apply for special dispensation from the Confederation of African Football to drastically alter their squad for the African Nations Championship (Chan), after players from Kaizer Chiefs failed to turn up yesterday for the first day of camp.

Chiefs seem adamant they will not release their players until after they face Mamelodi Sundowns on the 23rd of this month. That is likely to be too late for Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, whose side play three group matches before that.

Wits also seemed likely to refuse to release their three members of Bafana’s squad to Igesund, but Safa claimed yesterday that a late intervention from president Danny Jordaan had secured goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, defender Kwanda Mngonyama and midfielder Sibisiso Vilakazi.

As it was, only 15 of the 23 players named by Igesund to play in Chan, which takes place in South Africa from next Saturday, had arrived at the Southern Sun OR Tambo hotel by early yesterday afternoon, the notable absentees the five Chiefs call-ups, and the three from Wits.

Chiefs’ stand-off with the South African Football Association has been well-documented since Igesund announced his squad last Monday. Amakhosi initially refused to release their players at all, and are now saying they will only do so after they have played Mamelodi Sundowns in an Absa Premiership match.

True to their promise, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, defenders Tefu Mashamaite and Tsepo Masilela, winger Siphiwe Tshabalala and striker Bernard Parker did not report timeously for duty yesterday.

Wits’ reluctance to hand their players over was more surprising, as their next domestic game is only on the fourth of next month, three days after the Chan final. Wits CEO José Ferreira and coach Gavin Hunt could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Igesund’s problem is compounded by the fact that the deadline to supply a final squad list to CAF has now come and gone.

Article 65 of CAF’s rules for the tournament clearly states that an association must send them a squad of a maximum of 40 players 60 days before a tournament, which must be whittled down to 23 players by 10 days before the start of the tournament.

“No change can be introduced in the list of the twenty-three (23) players except in cases of force majeure recognised as such by the organising committee,” continues the CAF article.

If they cannot get their original players, Safa will have to hope the current chaos is seen as force majeure by CAF.

Safa were adamant yesterday that they expected all players selected by Igesund to attend camp, stressing that that was the agreement reached between Safa and the Premier Soccer League at a meeting on Christmas eve.

“We have written to the league and said that we expect the players to be released today,” said Safa CEO Dennis Mumble.

“We have not changed our position, we have an agreement, it is a matter of national interest and we are hosting a competition. If people are saying we are not supposed to have their players, having known about this competition for more than two years, to come up with reasons now is a bit disingenuous. We expect the players to report, and if we don’t we will see what happens.”

Safa may find that any recourse to punish Chiefs is stifled by the fact that as this tournament does not fall on an official Fifa date, no club is obliged to release their players. - The Star