Johannesburg - The South African Under-23 team's preparations for the final Olympic qualifier tournament are in tatters because of a communication breakdown between the SA Football Association (SAFA), the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the clubs regarding the release of players.
Just nine from the called-up list of 24 players had reported to the camp by Monday evening with the team departing for Algeria on Wednesday where they play their hosts in a friendly match this weekend - leaving coach Shakes Mashaba concerned.
In the early stages of the 2012 London Games qualifiers, Mashaba also battled to get all his players to the squad.
"As it stands I have just nine players at camp which logistically also hurts us because of visa situations," said Mashaba.
"The players travelling to Morocco later this month are required to have medical certificates as stipulated by the Confederations of African Football (CAF), and they would have done that at this camp," said Mashaba.
"But this is not a new problem. It goes back to 1999 in my first spell with the team."
Mashaba does not know where the breakdown might have occurred with SAFA and the PSL, having held a joint meeting on October 26, where he was also present, to discuss the availability of players for this month.
The conclusion from the gathering was that Mashaba would be afforded full support by the PSL with players, but seemingly they might not have been properly informed or agreed with the clubs that they should make their players available.
Some of the Under-23 players are a crucial part of their clubs, though, being that it's a FIFA date for international matches, clubs are supposed to release players in accordance with the world soccer body laws for international duty.
"We were in a joint liaison meeting in October between the SAFA and the PSL, where we gave them our plan that went beyond next year's Olympics," Mashaba said.
"We were told players would honour the Algeria match being that it's a FIFA date and then play league matches for their clubs the week after.
"Then they would be released back to us for the Olympic tournament in Morocco."
Speaking on a popular radio station on Monday, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza said SAFA had prematurely been given a squad on Saturday without giving enough time to clubs.
However, Khoza did admit that teams should be releasing players, because the match falls in the FIFA international week calendar.
"I want to clarify further that we held a meeting in October from where we agreed that we would assist Mashaba in the qualifications," said Khoza.
"Unfortunately, the release of the list of players needed was premature. There was wrong communication so clubs can't be to blame, and [it's] not an issue of the PSL refusing.
"With [Bafana Bafana coach] Pitso Mosimane there was no problem because he would talk to us, like when he requested a break in June to give enough preparations for the [2012 Africa Cup of Nations] Egypt game.
SAFA vice-president Shoes Mazibuko went on to add that he was in the "dark" over the communication breakdown as he thought that the matter regarding the release of players had been sorted a month ago.
"We held a cordial meeting at the PSL's request where a conclusion was drawn that Shakes would be given support," Mazibuko said.
"It's a communication problem that we should not be sitting with. Someone somewhere did not reach where they should have reached.
"It's strange that some clubs have refused to release their players, being that it's a FIFA weekend. And after the meeting that we had, why is this happening?"
It is expected that SAFA and the PSL will hold an urgent meeting on Tuesday to resolve the matter in time for Baby Bafana to have a travelling squad the following day.
The CAF Under-23 eight nations tournament in Morocco starts on November 26 with the final on December 10, with Baby Bafana in search of their first Olympic qualification since Sydney 2000.