circus is in town
Final preparations for Bafana Bafana's game against Equatorial Guinea got off to a dramatic start with a scheduled media briefing being cancelled at the 11th hour.
The briefing, which was to be addressed by coach Joel Santana, was called off after the South African Football Association failed to secure an interpreter.
Desiree Queiroz from the 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee, who has been acting as an interpreter for Santana, was not available.
It was decided to use Carlos Henriques, Safa referees development officer. But it appears the former professional referee was not informed about the decision.
Santana, who made history by ensuring that Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1996, had to wait in vain for two hours.
Stunned and agitated journalists were later informed by the team's media liaison officer, Sifiso Cele, that the briefing had been cancelled.
Cele, who was left alone to make arrangements at the team's hotel in downtown Pretoria, even tried in vain to get people from the nearby Portuguese embassies.
Santana was roaming around the hotel reception area in the presence of some of the players and officials.
The shambolic briefing was called for him to talk about Bafana's plans for the game scheduled for the Equatorial Guinea capital, Malabo, on Saturday.
Sowetan has learnt that Safa were also under pressure from the sponsors of the team, Absa and Castle, to host a media briefing.
This was after there was no briefing held for the international friendly against Malawi.
Sipho Nkumane, the team's manager who was scheduled to fly to Equatorial Guinea last night, was also not at the briefing.
Nkumane explained that he had no business to be there, arguing that the briefing was only to deal with "technical matters" for the Malabo game.
"I'm extremely embarrassed," Safa chief executive Raymond Hack said. "There is a specific person from the association who was supposed to be at the briefing. I can only apologise to the media."
It is strange that Santana, who speaks a bit of English, has been using an interpreter when it is convenient for him.
Reserve goalie Moeneeb Josephs was withdrawn after sustaining a wrist injury in a league game against Santos at the weekend. Santana has called up two keepers, Shu-Aib Walters from Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns' Brian Baloyi, who at 34,, seems over the hill.