Johannesburg - Winning the African Nations Championship (Chan) tournament could lead to an easier qualification route for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said on Monday.
"Sometimes it’s very misunderstood out there by a lot of people, a lot of supporters that it’s hugely important for us to do well in these types of tournaments because we want to improve our rankings," Igesund said at the announcement of his 23-man squad for the January tournament.
"If FIFA decide that this tournament will be ranked, we need to be in the top eight come February, so that we are seeded when it comes to the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations (qualification).
"We need to go and do well in this Chan tournament, to get to the final, to maybe win the tournament."
The Chan tournament is not a FIFA-endorsed event and as a result, local club teams are not obligated to release their players for the three-week competition, starting on January 11.
As a result, it seems unlikely that world soccer body FIFA will hand out ranking points after the competition, but Igesund is adamant Bafana should do well, in case FIFA decide to do so.
"It’s important for us to understand that any match the senior national teams plays is very important.
"This is why, for so many years in South Africa, we’ve battled to qualify because planning hasn’t been done the way it should be done.
"It’s important that we are in the top eight come the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations and if these points do count for us, we’ll be able to miss the big guns and this is what the secret is."
Igesund named a strong squad for the tournament, but did not name any Orlando Pirates players, due to their local Premier Soccer League (PSL) commitments, as they look to catch up fixtures that were previously postponed due to the Soweto club’s participation in the Caf Champions League.
Instead, Igesund named a host of Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns stars, as well as a handful of Platinum Stars players.
There was a recall for Wits goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, as well as fellow Clever Boys Ryan Chapman and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Apart from not selecting any Buccaneers, there was also no room for players from SuperSport United, AmaZulu or Ajax Cape Town, who are all involved in catch-up games, after the PSL announced that five fixtures would take place during the continental tournament, regardless of the national team’s participation.
Igesund, however, said he was confident the players he selected on Monday would all be available for the duration of the tournament.
"I’ve spoken to all the coaches.
"This was not a fight between two people, it was a situation where we tried to get to an amicable agreement where everybody can support each other, because the national team is of national interest.
"The clubs have got very important games to play during a certain period of time and finish the league. I’m very grateful to the response that we got from the PSL and the clubs. Those arrangement have been met now and I’m very confident that I’ll get the players that I’ve called-up."
South Africa were drawn to face Mozambique in the opening match of Chan, with Nigeria and Mali completing a tough group A.
The tournament runs until February 1, with Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Polokwane hosting the event.
Bafana Bafana squad:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Siyabonga Mpontshane.
Defenders: Thabo Nthethe, Tefu Mashamaite, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Kwanda Mngonyama, Tsepo Masilela, Tebogo Langerman, Vuyo Mere, Bryce Moon, Tshepo Gumede.
Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Lerato Chabangu, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Jabu Shongwe, Ryan Chapman, Lindokuhle Mbatha.
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Katlego Mashego, Edward Manqele.