Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is keeping his fingers crossed that there are no club versus country tensions when he announces the squad to take part in the Cosafa Cup tournament in Polokwane between May 27 and June 9.
South Africa‚ who were one of six seeded teams‚ will enter competition in the quarter-final stage and they will face off with whoever wins Group A‚ which includes Madagascar‚ Comoros‚ Seychelles and unpredictable Mozambique.
“I don’t know if it’s direct reluctance to release the players but I think that clubs are still concentrated on relegation battles‚ winning championships and qualifying for the top eight‚” said Baxter after the Cosafa Cup draw was conducted at Safa House on Wednesday.
“I have spoken to some of the clubs and we are getting more and more on the same page as to what can we do.
“I understand and I can’t ask the clubs to do the impossible to let me have all the players that have been on such a long run and are on the brink of breaking down for a difficult tournament.
“I have to show that understanding but at the same time club coaches must also understand that for a young player‚ the Cosafa Cup will give him experience and enhance his profile.
“We have got to give and take because we will never have a perfect world.”
Baxter also clarified that the Cosafa Cup will be for players who will be playing in the Olympic qualifiers because they want to give them exposure and international experience.
“This time‚ the strategy must be clear that we must pick the best possible team we can while at the same time investing time in younger players that we feel will go on and play in the Olympics or for Bafana Bafana‚” he said.
“Therefore‚ we have a clear picture of what we want to do.
“But the other challenge is that this tournament falls outside the Fifa calendar and can we get the players that we want?
“I have been around the country in the spirit of partnership where I have spoken to coaches and the clubs to discuss this issue.
“There must be some sort of partnership and we are going to need patience and understanding from the clubs.
“From our side‚ we must also understand that there are some players that we might not get because for a variety of reasons.
“Cosafa Cup has been challenging in the previous years because we haven’t had a clear position on what we are looking for out of the tournament.
“In most cases we sort of stumbled into the tournament with an under-strength team‚ investing time in players who won’t probably represent Bafana Bafana again.”
Mahlatse Mphahlele- TimesLIVE