Jonty Mark
Football Editor
2 minute read
26 Mar 2021
2:09 pm

Zungu’s Bafana U-turn explained

Jonty Mark

'He [Zungu] explained that it was a decision that could work against him if we forced him to come to Sudan,' said the Bafana Bafana head coach.

Bongani Zungu will not be in Sudan. Picture: EPA/Robert Perry / POOL

Molefi Ntseki has explained Glasgow Rangers midfielder Bongani Zungu’s decision not to join Bafana Bafana for Sunday’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Sudan.

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Bafana had been in negotiations with Rangers, and had, earlier in the week, been hopeful of getting Zungu released for the trip to Sudan, but in the end Rangers did not want to release their man, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zungu, along with Dean Furman, Thulani Serero and Keagan Dolly, were in Ntseki’s squad for the games against Ghana on Thursday and Sudan tomorrow, but all four have not been released by their clubs.

“On Wednesday we got a call from Zungu, and an email from his club to say they are no longer releasing him to South Africa or Sudan,” said Ntseki.

“He (Zungu) explained that it was a decision that could work against him if we forced him to come to Sudan. There is also a new list of countries referred to as (Covid-19) ‘red zones’, including Ethiopia and the UAE. If the players had come to Sudan, they had to come via Ethiopia or Dubai.”

Ntseki, meanwhile, is philosophical when reflecting on the disruptions that the pandemic has caused to his tenure, as well as the xenophobic attacks that caused the cancellation of his first match in charge back in September 2019.

It is certainly an unusual set of circumstances for any international coach to have to find a way to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. Ntseki’s side need at least a point in Omdurman tomorrow to make it to the Afcon finals in Cameroon early next year. .

“I might be the best philosopher, but I always say when you are faced with a storm, you can’t face its direction, you must just wait it out. All the challenges, from xenophobia to Covid have made the whole team believe in each other.

“If things continue, we will qualify and it will be a big celebration for all. Everyone wants us to get a better position than the last Afcon (Bafana were knocked out in the quarterfinals. I am sure the cohesion in the team will grow.”

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