CAPE TOWN – David Notoane, the coach in charge of South Africa’s African Nations Championship (Chan) squad is faced with a raft of withdrawals ahead of Sunday’s qualifying match against Lesotho in Maseru.
SA national Under-23 coach Notoane was asked to take the Chan squad because it was an opportunity for him to use the qualifying games as warm-ups for his Under-23 squad’s preparation for the qualifying campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
After naming a 23-man Chan squad to play Lesotho in a two-leg qualifier for the 2020 Chan tournament, Notoane is finding things rather difficult.
Because it’s such a delicate time of the season – the PSL kicks off in about two weeks’ time – clubs are reluctant to release their players.
As such, according to Notoane, he will have to do without players such as Teboho Mokoena, Jamie Webber, Reeve Frosler, Justice Chabalala, Zukile Kewuti, Sibusiso Mabiliso and Grant Margeman.
Notoane admits it’s a tough juggling act for him as a coach, but, at the same time, he is able to console himself with the fact that the players will be playing for their clubs. As long as they are active, he is happy because it gives the players game-time and he will be able to use them in the future.
Also, despite the withdrawals, Notoane sees it as an opportunity to get other players involved and to broaden the pool of talent he has available.
The Chan competition features only locally-based players. The reason for the establishment of the tournament was a response to the fact that so many of Africa’s best players were heading off to sign for overseas clubs. As such, in order to afford local players more exposure, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) introduced the Chan event.
The next tournament was originally scheduled to be held in Ethiopia in January-February next year, but it has since been moved to Cameroon.
Countries have to qualify to play at Chan 2020, hence South Africa’s upcoming games against Lesotho.
With Notoane also preparing his SA Under-23 side for an Olympic Games qualifier against Zimbabwe in early September, his plan is to give the youngsters a good competitive run in the Chan qualifiers.
“I wanted to build a bit of momentum with the Under-23s and use the available local players over the next few weeks, but I also understand that clubs are involved in pre-season preparations,” said Notoane.
While Notoane is using the Chan qualifiers as Olympic Games preparation for his Under-23 squad, he nevertheless acknowledges that he won’t be taking the two legs against Lesotho lightly.
“We are keen to qualify for Chan,” said Notoane. “The Chan event is in January next year and to get there would be great as we could then use the tournament as part of our programme to prepare for the Olympic Games (if they qualify).”