Bafana coach on Afcon mission to UK

5 November 2012

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund and his assistant, Serame Letsoaka, are due to visit South African players and their managers in England this week to ask their clubs to release them early ahead of the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon).

During their visit, they will also hold meetings with the managers of Kagisho Dikgacoi, who plays for Crystal Palace, and Dean Furman of Oldham Athletic.

"According to Fifa rules, the players can only report for national duty 14 days before the start of the Afcon tournament; in this case it will be the 5th of January. Our main aim in England will be to try and get the players released early from their respective clubs so that they can join us at least 21 days before the start of the Afcon tournament," Igesund said.

'Mould them into a unit'

"That means we would like to assemble the team around the Christmas festive period. This would be the perfect time to mould them into a unit, because the past four matches have been mainly to look at different players and combinations," he added.

Before Igesund and Letsoaka depart on Monday, the squad to take on reigning African champions Zambia in the annual Nelson Mandela challenge on 14 November at the FNB Stadium will be announced.

Another reason for their visit is to create a good working relationship with overseas-based players and their clubs, considering that after the Zambia game, there won't be Fifa dates leading up to the Afcon tournament.

An important tournament

Afcon is an important tournament for the country, Igesund said. "It is for this reason that we have to engage the managers to see if those players that we would have selected can't be available when we start our camp.

"South Africa will reciprocate by not calling up some of those players when their clubs have important fixtures in future. If we can get 60 percent of them on time, that will be an achievement, and I believe with communication, sincerity and support we can make this happen," he said.

Igesund and Letsoaka are also hoping to meet with former Bafana captain Steven Pienaar, who has retired from international football.

After the match against Zambia, the coaches also intending travelling to Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands to meet the managers of the South African players based there to make the same request.

SAinfo reporter

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