Coach Molefi Ntseki chats to the players at the drinks break during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier match between South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe at Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 13, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.
SAFA president Danny Jordaan believes their inability to field a full-strength team, including European-based players, due to Covid-19 protocols heavily influenced Bafana Bafana’s Afcon qualification campaign, which ended in failure.
Defeat to Sudan late last month in their final Group G fixture saw Bafana fall short of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Cameroon.
The disappointing end to their qualifying campaign saw head coach Molefi Ntseki unceremoniously sacked ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifying campaign beginning in June.
Jordaan insists that the unique Covid-19 pandemic circumstances heavily influenced Bafana Bafana’s Afcon qualifying fate.
“One of the major aspects is that we have 65 players in Europe, nine of which would have been certain starters in the two matches against Ghana and Sudan,” Jordaan told Sport24.
“FIFA made a decision, in favour of clubs, due to their concerns regarding the Covid-19 pandemic to make it not compulsory for them to release their players.
“Already clubs are always reluctant to release players, so this just gave them further ammunition to withhold national players.
“Do you know how many overseas-based players we were given? Only one, as Bongani Zungu wasn’t there, Dean Furman wasn’t there along with Kamohelo Mokotjo, Thulani Serero, Keagan Dolly, and I can go on and on.
“Can Sudan beat us? No, not if we have a full-strength team, and we showed that in the last tournament where we reached the quarter-finals of the Afcon in Egypt.
“But any coach, even at club level, will struggle or find it hard to win, and that’s what eventually led to us missing out on qualifying for Afcon 2021.
“Then all of a sudden you hear critics saying it’s the entire development structures or instead that the president needs to be removed from the organisation.
“We know that we should’ve qualified, and we believe we would have if not for some circumstances.”
Jordaan then also agreed with Bafana Bafana attacker Percy Tau in insisting that their unfortunate Afcon campaign obscured the clear progress the team was making.
“We have 10 national teams, Bafana is just one of them,” Jordaan added.
“The team is the crown jewel, the cherry on the cake, but you can’t measure success with just that.
“You have to look broadly at all the national teams and each of their individual progress.
“We have 65 male players currently playing in Europe; as I mentioned, we then also have 32 women players based in Europe.
“Following that up is we will be participating at next year’s Olympic games after our second consecutive successful qualifying campaign for an Olympics.
“Before that, the last time we qualified was for the 2000 Olympics, which shows clear progress in recent times.”