SAFA throws its weight behind Bafana's bid to qualify for 2019 Afcon the old fashioned way
SA Football Association (Safa) acting chief executive Russell Paul says the body will now throw its weight behind Bafana Bafana getting the draw they need from their final qualifier after the hosting of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Tuesday was awarded to Egypt.
Paul appealed to Premier Soccer League (PSL) officials and their clubs to also get behind the needs of Bafana coach Stuart Baxter for the national team’s last 2019 Afcon qualifier against Libya‚ probably in Tunisia‚ on March 23.
Had SA won their bid to step in as replacement hosts for Cameroon‚ stripped of the competition over planning and security issues last year‚ Bafana would not have had to qualify for the tournament that runs from June 15 to July 13.
But the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) voted (16 to one‚ with one no-vote) in Dakar in Senegal on Tuesday to award the Afcon to Egypt.
“Ja look‚ the bid and the qualification for Afcon were two separate issues for us.
"We were always going out to play Libya in our last game to win‚ irrespective of the outcome of this bid‚” Paul told TimesLIVE.
“Now business continues as normal‚ and yes‚ we are going to do the best that we can do to provide the coach with an opportunity to be as best-prepared as he can.
“But‚ in the light of that‚ we are also going to require the cooperation of the clubs‚ and the National Soccer League in particular‚ to come out and assist us as best as we can to allow the coach to prepare these players for that.”
It would be a non-possibility for Baxter to have any of his European-based players released early for the Libya game.
However‚ if Safa were serious about giving the coach full support for the Afcon‚ perhaps a deal could be reached with the PSL to reschedule some matches ahead of the qualifier‚ and the coach might at least have a training camp with his local-based stars.
Paul said Safa had given some thought to such a measure.
“The coach is busy with the clubs along those lines.
"And I think he’s best-placed to give you more in-depth comment on that preparation‚” the acting chief executive said.
“But those are what we’ve been working on since the last game.”
Bafana are unbeaten in Group E‚ but some mediocre results have seen Nigeria qualify and the South Africans needing a result away against Libya.
Notably‚ after beating Nigeria for the first time in a competitive game‚ away in Uyo in June 2017‚ Bafana’s home draw against the Libyans and‚ worse‚ away draw against Seychelles‚ set the South Africans back.
Libya have played their qualifiers in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia due to the unstable security situation in the country.