PSL’s festive football throws spanner in Hugo Broos, Bafana’s Afcon works

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Dec 21, 2023


The Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) perpetual sabotage of the country’s national football team, Bafana Bafana, has reached unprecedented levels.

The South African Football Association (Safa) had contacted the PSL some time ago to request that they end their 2023 DStv Premiership fixtures before Christmas, possibly around December 23.

This would allow Bafana Bafana adequate time to prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), which starts on January 13 in the Ivory Coast.

The PSL have not responded, and Safa CEO Lydia Monyepao said that national team coach Hugo Broos has repeatedly asked about the outcome.

Over the years, it has been customary for Safa to request the early release of players for Bafana duty. But almost without fail, the request has fallen on deaf ears.

Clubs are required by Fifa, football’s world controlling body, to release players for national team duty at least 14 days before tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations.

The PSL have taken this requirement to the ultimate by stopping their fixtures on December 30, and this complies with Fifa’s 14-day rule.

However, the bulk of the Bafana squad is drawn from Mamelodi Sundowns and the PSL have scheduled the club to play three times in the space of seven days by December 30.

This is wicked in the extreme because the Sundowns players will be run into the ground coping with this fixture load.

The Brazilians play Cape Town City this Sunday, and then host Moroka Swallows next Wednesday, December 27 and Polokwane City next Saturday, December 30 in a whirlwind end to 2023.

The animosity between Safa and PSL has been well documented.

However, by the looks of things, Sundowns are also being singled out for hostility after the African Football League (AFL) debacle a few months ago when the PSL came off second best.

At the time, the PSL Board of Governors had decided that Sundowns’ fixture schedule would not be amended to allow them to play in the newly formed AFL.

However, a few days later, the PSL backed down and Sundowns went on to play in the AFL.

To their credit, the PSL had second thoughts about standing in the way of Masandawana, but it may only have been because the club is owned by South African billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe.

The PSL remembered that a few months earlier, they turned to Motsepe after they lost the GladAfrica sponsorship for the National First Division league, and they would not jeopardise that partnership.

Sundowns had a taste of the PSL’s treatment a few weeks ago with a fixture from hell, which saw them lose a first-round Carling Knockout Cup game to an average TS Galaxy team via a penalty shootout.

The match was played a day after a Bafana Bafana fixture in the Ivory Coast, and their internationals could not make it back in time for the domestic fixture.

On Tuesday, although Sundowns ended up winning the match in Egypt against Pyramids FC, their players looked tired towards the end.

In the past year, Sundowns played in the Premiership, Nedbank Cup, Carling Knockout Cup, Macufe Cup, MTN8, CAF Champions League, African Football League and the Maize Cup.

Bafana Bafana will assemble on January 4 in Stellenbosch, which is also a setback because Johannesburg and Pretoria were the preferred venues for a pre-tournament camp. However,

these were not available.

The squad fly out to the Ivory Coast on January 11 and they play the opening match on January 16 against Mali. They play their next two group games over the next eight days.

In 1996, when Bafana Bafana won the Afcon, the late coach Clive Barker was given a month to prepare the team.

By this time, most African leagues are in recess, and national teams are in camp – some in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.