Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns coaches Stuart Baxter and Pitso Mosimane spoke out about their thoughts on releasing their players for the national team to take part in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament this month.
“We raised question marks about the selection process for CHAN very early based on the schedule we knew we were going to get, and the timing of the tournament,” Baxter said on Thursday, following his team’s 1-0 win over Sundowns in a PSL clash at Loftus Versfeld.
“We raised our concerns.
"We want to support the national team, but we want it to be in a way that it doesn’t hurt us.”
South Africa crashed out of CHAN following a heavy 3-1 defeat to Nigeria in their final group A clash at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday, stumbling at the first hurdle and failing to make it out of the group stage.
Ahead of the start of the tournament, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the SA Football Association (SAFA) held lengthy discussions with clubs and came to an agreement that the concerned teams would make their players available for the competition, despite the PSL scheduling league matches during that period.
Baxter and Mosimane each had four of their players away on international duty and had Bafana progressed to the next round, scheduled for his weekend, those players would have returned to their clubs for Thursday’s top-of-the-table encounter, before returning to the Bafana camp a day later.
“It’s always sensitive with me and I try to do the best that I can and I gave the players, because I know what’s going to happen and what you (the media) are going to say,” Mosimane said.
“So I did what was good for the country, and being patriotic I gave the players.”
Both Baxter and Mosimane had previously done stints in charge of Bafana.
Baxter was hired in 2004 but only lasted a year after failing to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Mosimane acted as care-taker coach in 2006/7 and then served as assistant coach to Brazilians Carlos Alberto Parreira and Joel Santana before taking over the reins in July 2010 for two years.
“We accept and do everything for the country, but unfortunately... you don’t get your players back.
"We knew there were going to be injuries and psychological challenges and that’s what happened."
Of his four players -- Hlompho Kekana, Bryce Moon, Katlego Mashego and Tebogo Langerman -- Langerman was unable to recover in time for the match against Chiefs and Kekana was substituted early in the match.
Baxter said it was it was better to release the players and to do what you could to assist Bafana Bafana.
“We always want to support the national team.
"Both of us have been there when you’ve not got your players and know how difficult it is, so we always try to help them,” Baxter said.
The Amakhosi boss also believed SAFA would have to look into the off-the-field issues which surrounded the national side instead of gunning for the removal of coach Gordon Igesund.
“If we are going to take the game forward in this country, I think there are bigger issues that need to be addressed," Baxter said.
“All of that doesn’t mean very much unless there’s a discussion, not only about the coach, not only about a 3-1 result, but about other things that we have harped on about for the last 10 years.
“Development programmes -- where are our under-19s? Where are the under-23s and where are they going to play? Do we have any talent identification processes?
“People have run away from all of those questions for so long and every time we lose a game, we sack the coach.
"There are bigger issues and the people who need to address those bigger issues should put their hands up.”