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Kaizer Chiefs stars Frosler and Ngcobo will miss Olympics for Champions League final

David Notoane is having a difficult time preparing the South Africa under-23 national team to participate at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
David Notoane is having a difficult time preparing the South Africa under-23 national team to participate at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Image: Lee Warren

Kaizer Chiefs stars Reeve Frosler and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo have been withdrawn from South Africa’s Under-23 team to compete at next month’s Tokyo Olympics so they can play in the Caf Champions League final against Al Ahly.

Olympic team coach David Notoane confirmed on Wednesday that right-back Frosler and midfielder Ngcobo will be sacrificed when Sascoc (SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee) announces his squad on Thursday.

This will allow them to turn out for Chiefs in the club’s historic first Champions League final at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on July 17.

The final against Pitso Mosimane’s nine-time champions Ahly takes place five days before SA kick off the men’s Olympic tournament against hosts Japan at Tokyo Stadium on July 22.

Chiefs are also scrambling to tie down some players contract that end on June 30 for the final.

Notoane said the SA Football Association (Safa)‚ in their negotiations with Chiefs – who eventually opted not to release the players – explored the option of the players arriving in Japan late‚ but with a squad of just 18 at the Olympics this was deemed not viable.

“It’s a historic moment for Chiefs‚ and it was a possible historic opportunity for the players in terms of the Olympics‚” Notoane said‚ admitting the loss of the two is a further blow to a team already hit by players not being released from European clubs as the Olympics falls outside a Fifa international date.

“I feel really sad‚ especially for Ngcobo‚ who in 2017 was really on top of his game and got injured before going to the [U-20] World Cup.

“It’s also sad for us. In terms of the quality of the fullback‚ with Reeve now not available. Outside of him then you have to go for experience because of the young group he’s probably your best player available there for this magnitude of a tournament. It’s a big blow for us.

“And for Ngcobo you’re going to miss the brains‚ the creativity‚ the balance of the left-footed midfielder because there are not many on the country at his age.”

“We tried to explore possibilities of them joining later. But the problem is we only have 18 players. So if you reserve spots for two guys who are still come in and acclimatise for six days‚ then you are playing the first match with 14 outfield players. And they have also not prepared with you at all.

“I must also say that before anyone thinks Chiefs are at all unpatriotic‚ the communication has been very honest and professional and understanding between the two entities.

“Them saying they were not releasing the players was not subbing Safa – it was the conclusion of the negotiations we had‚ with coach Arthur Zwane here and their head of technical Molefi Ntseki.

“And of course we are happy they are in the final‚ and we hope that they can bring it home for South Africa.”

Notoane said he will try to replace the lost Chiefs duo with overage players. Three players over 23 are allowed in the Olympic squad.

He said Cape Town City utility player Abbubaker Mobara (27)‚ who famously marked Neymar out of the game when SA drew against Brazil in the 2016 Olympics‚ is likely to replace Frosler.

“You look everywhere to replace a player of the quality of Frosler‚ at the GladAfrica Championship‚ where with respect the players are behind with exposure to this kind of level. Then we looked at the Thapelo Morenas‚ Siyabonga Dube at Arrows.

“And with Dube and Morena not available … then maybe Mobara comes in. He’s with us in camp‚ we have considered him‚ and we will make that call because when the squad is announced tomorrow. We’re seeing how he fits in‚ and he also gives us options because he’s very versatile.”

Notoane said Mamelodi Sundowns right-back Morena was unavailable “just form the season he had at Sundowns‚ and he was not up to it”.