BAFANA Bafana’s preparations for their tour down under plumbed farcical depths yesterday after Mamelodi Sundowns’ Teko Modise and BidVest Wits’ Sthembiso Ngcobo took the unorthodox decision of personally turning down their invitations to join the travelling squad.
Bafana coach Gordon Igesund was still reeling from the withdrawal of a record 11 players on Tuesday when Modise and Ngcobo also decided they did not want to represent their country in friendlies against Australia on Monday, and New Zealand in Auckland next Friday.
Modise was to replace injured Wits midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi, while Ngcobo would have taken the place of Orlando Pirates’ Kermit Erasmus, who is already on holiday in Holland.
Igesund said yesterday he personally phoned both Modise and Ngcobo and tried to convince them to travel with him, but they ultimately decided not to accept their call-up letters.
“I spoke to Teko [on Monday] and I told him I understood it was short notice but we have a situation here,” he said. “I explained everything to him [about the withdrawals] and I asked if he would be available to come. He said to me ‘alright, coach, I think everything will be OK but I will come back to you in 10 minutes’.
“He never came back to me but he instead sent an SMS to [Bafana team manager] Barney Kujane stating that he was very honoured but would not be able to make it. He feels he’s had a tough season and his body is tired.”
Igesund said Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane gave Modise permission to travel with Bafana but the midfielder still elected to turn down his call-up.
“So this has got nothing to do with the club withdrawing the player and it was he himself [Modise], you know.”
Modise could not be reached yesterday afternoon but he told the Sundowns website “he had prior engagements up to Friday” that prevented him from travelling down under.
Igesund revealed that Ngcobo also turned down his invitation.
“He [Ngcobo] was also chosen to the squad and he also chose not to be here because he felt he wanted to spend time with his family in Durban.”
As if that were not enough, the Orlando Pirates duo of Oupa Manyisa and Thabo Matlaba are yet to report to camp and Igesund said he does not know where they are. – Mninawa Ntloko