Mass withdrawals ravage South Africa’s squad
Due to a combination of injuries and clubs unwilling to release players, South Africa coach Gordon Igesund was forced to hastily rebuild his squad with seven players brought in before the team flew out of Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Igesund’s side will take on Australia in Sydney on Monday – in the Socceroos’ final game before heading to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup – and will then travel to Auckland to play New Zealand on May 30.
The 57-year-old coach confirmed at a press conference at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport that he had been forced to make wholesale changes to his squad.
“I think it was important to call a press conference to let everyone know what is happening,” Igesund said on Tuesday.
“Originally I called up 18 players and there were 11 withdrawals due to injuries, and other reasons.
“Some clubs were not willing to release certain players as well. I mean we only found out about some of them on Monday night.”
But in a confusing press conference, Igesund then named only 10 players as ‘out’, while he also claimed Orlando Pirates duo Oupa Manyisa and Thabo Matlaba might still travel with the team depending on the outcomes of late medical exams.
Igesund confirmed that Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Siyanda Xulu (Rostov), Andile Jali (Oostende), Siphiwe Tshabalala, Bernard Parker, Tsepo Masilela and Itumeleng Khune (all Kaizer Chiefs) would not travel.
The former national team striker then added that he had tried to call up Wits midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi only to find out the 24-year-old was also injured, while he maintained Manyisa and Matlaba might still be included in his final 18-man squad.
“Our team doctor is also going to assess Manyisa and Matlaba after this conference,” Igesund said.
“We will then know if they will be able to play or not.”
In a final twist to the tale, South African media are also reporting that Orlando Pirates striker Kermit Erasmus may not make the tour, as Igesund claimed he is on holiday in Europe and was not answering his phone.
Squad in full:
Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates)
Thabo Nthethe (Mamelodi Sundowns), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Pretoria University), Thato Mokeke (SuperSport United), Anele Ngcongca (Genk), Thabo Matlaba – pending fitness test (Orlando Pirates), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs)
Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Oupa Manyisa – pending fitness test (Orlando Pirates), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Ajax), Thuso Phala, (SuperSport United), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren)
Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth)
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