Johannesburg - Some Bafana Bafana players have raised concerns over the scheduling of Tuesday’s friendly match against Zambia.
The South African Football Association (Safa) a few days ago announced the friendly against Chipolopolo just a day after Bafana get back from Nigeria.
Bafana only arrive in the country on Monday morning, having spent a long time travelling from Uyo to Lagos and finally Johannesburg, and then they have to head straight to Rustenburg for the match.
On the other hand, Zambia, who were involved in an Afcon qualifier against Mozambique in their own back yard in Ndola, have a short trip to make to South Africa.
Honour the fixture
Some players mumbled that the scheduling of the game meant added time in camp. They feel the game is ill-timed and has no significance as most of them are in recess.
Coach Stuart Baxter said he was not surprised by the players’ complaints, hinting that he was also not happy with the scheduling because he did not know about it.
He said Safa told him that this was how previous coaches preferred it and there was nothing he could do about it.
However, he said the team was obliged to honour the fixture.
“I’m one with the players on this, but it’s okay. We know the obligations and we just have to hang in there.
“It’s not easy because we land on Monday morning and play 24 hours later. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t want it that way for many reasons”.
He said that if the season was still on, it would have created issues with clubs.
“You can imagine what the clubs would have said when we sent their players back and, 48 hours later, they are involved in a game. Scheduling, contact with clubs and confidence become issues”.
Baxter already said he would ring in the changes for this match as most of the youngsters are expected to feature. He mentioned that the likes of Lorenzo Gordinho, Abbubaker Mobara and Percy Tau would get a full run.
Gets 100 caps
“It’s a chance to showcase the future of South African football, and to play youngsters and see what they can offer. Let’s see what Mobara, Percy and Lorenzo can do together and bring some experience to help them along.”
Baxter said the game was not a dud, but emphasised that he would not pick the same team that played Nigeria on Saturday.
“Winning is important to me, but is it important for the country if one player gets 100 caps and another is still on six?” he asked. “I know I will take stick if we lose, but at least I know I am doing the right thing”.
He said the results of the Nigeria game would not have any influence on his team selection.
He also said it was important to have buy-in from all stakeholders and he was in the process of selling his vision to the clubs, coaches and all South Africans.
“People must know where we are coming from so they can understand our decisions. The important thing is we need to have everyone’s buy-in, even if not everyone will agree with us.”
Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi declined to comment.