Pienaar keen to face Blues in semifinal

Steven Pienaar hopes to be given special permission to delay his departure for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Steven Pienaar hopes to be given special permission to delay his departure for the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Everton midfielder wants to play against Chelsea in the Carling Cup before linking up with his South African teammates.

The 25-year-old is one of a host of Premier League stars who will leave their clubs behind to go to Ghana.

The tournament kicks off on January 20 but Pienaar wants to delay his departure until the last possible moment.

The South African squad come together tomorrow but, with the Carling Cup semifinal clash occurring three days later, Pienaar hopes a compromise can be reached.

He told Everton's website: "I'm supposed to be going on January 5 but we are trying our best so that I can stay for a bit longer.

"I hope we can agree on it because I am in-between at the minute and there is nothing I can do.

"I am like any other player and I want to be involved in the big games. The semifinal with Chelsea is so important and I want to be a part of the team that goes to Stamford Bridge.

"You always want to play for your country but you also always want to play for your club."

Bafana Bafana do not start their campaign until January 23 against Angola, raising hopes that a deal can be struck.

"I'm stuck in the middle but I hope the association gives me a day free because they know how important this game is for me," he added.

"It will be sad going away for so long especially when the team is doing so well. The spirit here is tremendous and I believe the lads will be up for it

lSee page 33 for more on Bafana Bafana.- BBC

X