The SA Football Association (Safa) is at loggerheads with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) who wants Bafana Bafana to play two Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in three days in November, and host the home game, against Sudan, at 9pm on a Sunday.
Acting Safa CEO Russell Paul is having none of it and has told Caf that SA is refusing to accept such taxing requirements‚ especially when, Paul says, the schedule of fixtures for November’s opening salvo of Afcon qualifiers heavily favours North African nations.
Countries usually make their own arrangements for home games‚ within the Fifa international window‚ and inform Cairo of their choice over the date of the match‚ kickoff time and venue. But because it has been agreed by Caf members that a collective television rights agreement be put in place for this qualifying competition‚ the continental body is scheduling the games to ensure maximum TV exposure.
Caf wants SA to play their opening group C game against Ghana in Kumasi on Friday‚ November 15, and host Sudan two days later at 9pm.
Paul said this is an impossible arrangement‚ given SA would have to fly back from Ghana on Saturday‚ November 16, and then go straight into their next match the next day.
The flying time between Accra and Johannesburg is five hours 45 minutes.
Instead he is pushing for SA to play in Accra on Thursday‚ November 14‚ allowing the squad to return home the next day (flights from Accra to OR Tambo International Airport leave at 9am daily) and play against Sudan on the Sunday.
The proposed 9pm kickoff time is ridiculous, he said.
“No-one will come out to watch at that time of night before a working day. I’ve told CAF we can only play on a Sunday afternoon‚ not evening‚” he said.
He is hoping for a kickoff of either 3pm or 4pm.
SA will host Sudan at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
“We cannot take the game outside Gauteng because there is no time to catch any connecting flights after the team comes back from Ghana,” Paul said.
The first two rounds of group matches begin on November 13 and go through to November 19. Each team is to play two matches in that six-day window‚ one home and one away. There are 12 groups of four countries each in the qualifying competition for Cameroon 2021. The top two advance to the 24-team finals.
CAF had not responded to queries by the time of publication.