Sport

Teams have last say: Ntseki

SA coach Molefi Ntseki says he has a plan B in place in case any of Bafana Bafana’s overseas players, such as Percy Tau and Bongani Zungu, are forced out of the upcoming Afcon qualifiers due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The national team faces Ghana and Sudan in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month, but Ntseki faces a battle to fill his 26-man squad as several countries are still prohibiting travel to South Africa because of the new Covid-19 variant.

According to Ntseki, the clubs have the power to decide who will be allowed to leave for international duty or not. With Dean Furman, Zungu and Tau all in the UK, they could be withdrawn due to the current restrictions in the country which requires quarantine for up to 10 days if someone has travelled to SA.

“Fifa issued a circular that clubs can decide whether or not they will allow their players to leave for international duty due to Covid-19. I had spoken to all overseas-based players to assess the situation and we had agreed to revisit their concerns after the call-up letters were issued,” Ntseki said during his visit to Bloemfontein.

Ntseki, though, has planned for a worst-case scenario and has a backup plan.

“Percy and Bongani are meeting with their respective clubs tomorrow and I will then engage with the players so that if we make any other arrangements, they’ve given us the go-ahead. If the issue is coming to SA, we can always compromise having them here for the Ghana game and then only meet up in Sudan for the second match,” the coach explained.

“The issue is that SA is in the red zone, but Sudan isn’t, and they can then go back to the UK from Sudan. But that decision will be taken by the club and we will have to negotiate with them regarding any plans. We can have 23 players for the Ghana game and then the full quota in Sudan,” he noted.

Ghana called up an alternative squad by inviting 24 home-based players for a camp in Accra and face a similar hurdle with a number of their stars.

Both Bafana and Ghana need just a point from their remaining two games to qualify for the Afcon tournament in January next year.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi