Meshack Khotha and Sello Rabothata
Bafana Bafana coach Alberto Parreira says his priority with the national team is to to make sure it qualifies for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
He said this during a news conference in Sandton yesterday to announce the names of players selected for a training camp in Johannesburg next week.
Said Parreira:"My target is to build the team step by step and qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations next year.
" It is very important to watch local players so as to get a good combination and also not to leave out experience.''
The Brazilian made a strong appeal to South Africans to play a vital role in terms of support for the team.
There were no surprises in the squad, which was clearly just a continuation of what Pitso Mosimane and Khabo Zondo had always been saying they were doing in building a base for Parreira.
The only problem with the team is that no consideration has been given to present in-form players such as Lefa Tsutsulupa of Moroka Swallows, Bamuza Sono of Jomo Cosmos, Ntokozo Sikhakhane at Celtic or Kaizer Motaung Jnr, to mention a few, while others who have not really impressed lately have made the team.
The 23-member squad will attend the training camp scheduled for Monday to Wednesday at Soccer City.
Raymond Hack, Safa's CEO, said the purpose of the camp is to give Parreira the opportunity to assess the players at a training session.
This camp will also serve as preparation for Bafana Bafana ahead of their opening Afcon qualifier match against Chad on March 24-25. Hack further said the selection of the players was based on the last three games including Zambia, Namibia and Congo.
Meanwhile, stringent ground rules were tabled for the media's interaction with the team which places restrictions that border on interfering with media freedom.
It has been decided beforehand which players the media will be able to talk to on any particular day and the time afforded is only 15 minutes after training sessions depending on whether the press officer agrees or not while poster pictures will be permitted on request. It has also been made clear that Parreira will not be available for telephonic interviews.
South Africans are going to find it difficult to follow news about Bafana under Parreira with the media being under such tight control. See page 13.