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Some internationals may not be available during COSAFA next month

Sports Section

By Sabelo Ndzinisa - THE SWAZI OBSERVER-11-Sep-2009

SOCCER – THE National Football Association (FA) has admitted that some of the international players based in South Africa may not be available for Sihlangu during the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup to be hosted in Zimbabwe next month

In a press briefing yesterday, FA’s CEO Frederick Mngomezulu explained that this tournament does not fall within the FIFA calendar, which makes it difficult for players to be released by their respective teams for it.

“The reality is that it would be difficult to get the international players for the COSAFA tournament because FIFA does not recognise it. “This means teams are not obliged to release them unless we successfully negotiate with them. I must point out that we will try our level best to ensure that all the players selected by the national team technical bench are available for the tournament but there are no guarantees on that,” Mngomezulu explained.

He also mentioned that they have already confirmed their participation in the tournament with the COSAFA executive committee.

“The deadline for confirmation in participating in this tournament is tomorrow (today) but I can assure all Swazis that Sihlangu will definitely take part in the tournament. We are hopeful that the draw for the tournament would be held sometime next week,” Mngomezulu said. This year’s tournament would be hosted in Zimbabwe’s two main cities, Bulawayo and Harare. It will be played in the same format as last year, where teams are seeded using the FIFA rankings, with the six top ranked team getting bye into the quarter-finals. The eight other teams would start in the preliminaries and be divided into two groups, with the winners in each joining the other quarter-finalists. The preliminaries would start on October 17 and the tournament would run until November 2, which means Sihlangu could spend about two weeks in Robert Mugabe’s State.

Sihlangu would be involved in the preliminaries with countries like Madagascar, Re-Union, Mauritius, Seychelles, Lesotho, Botswana and the hosts, Zimbabwe. “We are hoping to have an international friendly match before this tournament but we are currently involved in talks with different countries and hopefully, we would be confirming everything soon.

The idea is to have this game during the FIFA week next month,” he explained. Mngomezulu also confirmed that Sihlangu has been registered for the African Nations Championships, which would involve only the locally-based players. The finals of this tournament would be hosted in Sudan in 2011 but the eliminations are expected to start early next year.


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