pumping up under-23

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Sasol and the South African Football Association are involved in talks to renew their vows to lay a foundation for the 2012 London Olympics.

The petroleum company has been sponsoring the South African Under-23 national side since 1994, when the team was established.

Sowetan has learnt that the company showed their commitment to the marriage by presenting Safa with a R48 million sponsorship offer.

The current four-year sponsorship of R40 million, which has gone down the drain after the Under-23s failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, expires next month.

, Safa president Molefi Oliphant is also involved in the discussions for a new deal. Sasol also sponsors the rugby and Paralympic teams.

Oliphant told Sowetan in April that he was hopeful the company will still be with his federation for the London Olympics, where they hoped to qualify.

Raymond Hack, Safa chief executive, said they will be meeting the top brass from the sponsor in two weeks' time to discuss the new deal.

"It is true that they are coming up with a new concept. We are involved in discussions with them and everything is looking great," Hack said. "As far as we are concerned, they have always indicated to us that they were keen to be with us. We may have not qualified for the Beijing Olympics, but from our side the relationship has been a great one.

"If you look at the game against Paraguay in March, Bafana Bafana had nine players who graduated from the Under-23 national side."

Regarding the future of the Under-23 coach, Steve Komphela, Hack said: "We have a contract with Steve as a coach. Obviously we are going to evaluate the progress of the team next month and also start with the planning for the 2012 London Olympics."

Komphela's contract will expire at the end of the Beijing Olympics. Serame Letsoaka, coach of Amajita and Amabinneplaas, is favourite to take over as U-23 coach.