Johannesburg - South Africa’s national development soccer team – Amabinneplaas – are missing in action at the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan), which began in Morocco on Saturday.
Their hope of participating in the tournament was dashed when they were knocked out by Zambia via a 4-2 aggregate following a two-all draw at home and 2-0 loss in Ndola.
However, Mzansi will have some representation at the championship as South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan will be performing his Confederation of African Football (CAF) duties.
South African Victor Gomes will referee Monday's clash between Nigeria and Rwanda at Grand Stade de Tanger in Tangier.
He will be assisted by Souru Phatsoane from Lesotho and Soulaimane Amaldine from the Comoros, with Senegal’s Maguette Ndiaye serving as the fourth official.
South African soccer fans are also no strangers to the championship’s sponsor, oil and gas company Total.
In 2016, the company signed an eight-year deal with CAF to sponsor all the organisation’s competitions.
These are Chan, the Africa Cup of Nations, the CAF Champions League, the CAF Confederation Cup, the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, the Super Cup and the Africa Futsal Cup of Nations, as well as all the junior Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 tournaments.
Total also has projects in South Africa, one of which saw the company taking 40 couples to last year’s Afcon finals in Gabon where Bafana Bafana were incidentally also missing.
Total South Africa marketing manager Reina Cullinan said: “It is quite difficult to enter the South African football market at the top. As a result, we made the decision to come up with projects that will directly benefit local football lovers.
“This includes running customer competitions through the company’s 547 service stations".
Total also runs development soccer tournaments with selected service stations. These include a tournament in Osizweni, KwaZulu-Natal and the annual squatter camp soccer tournament in Springs, Gauteng.
The oil company has also roped in soccer fans to create football paraphernalia such as makarapas, the famous safety hat that has become part of the local football regalia among fans.
This project is given to squatter camp residents.
As the sponsorship deal is set to continue for six more years, Cullinan said Total South Africa hoped Bafana Bafana, Amabinneplaas and Absa Premiership League teams would do well in the tournaments.
The African Nations Championship is a soccer tournament held every two years. It only features players who are active in national championships and who have qualified to play in the season.