Da Gama – They are way down the pecking order

Da Gama – They are way down the pecking order

Owen Da Gama has insisted Surprise Moriri, Soloman Mathe, Tlou Segolela and Siyabonga Mpontshane are no longer under consideration for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The rules state that teams are allowed to have three overage players in their squad for the men’s Under-23 football tournament in Brazil.

And a Times Media report on Tuesday stated that Mathe, Moriri, Mpontshane and Segolela were on a list of 19 overage players that the South African Football Association had submitted to the Premier Soccer League.

These are all former or current players at Platinum Stars, a club Da Gama has coached on more than one occasion, and on current form would be bizarre selections to be on the plane to Rio.

Da Gama, however, told Phakaaathi on Tuesday that these players were only in an initial list of over 200 names, of both overage and under-23 players, sent by Safa to the PSL. That list has, according to the SA coach now been reduced to 68 players, with none of the four still in the mix.

“They are way down the pecking order,” said Da Gama.

Safa are trying to negotiate the safe release of players with the PSL, because Fifa do not make it obligatory for clubs to release their players for the Olympic Games. The PSL, however, already postponed their league for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Senegal last year, and could do so again for the start of the 2016/17 campaign.

Da Gama added that Safa were also trying to get overseas based clubs to release their players.

“The Dutch and Belgian leagues are selling leagues so it could be … marketing for them,” said Da Gama, with reference to the likes of Thulani Serero and Andile Jali.

South Africa’s Olympic body, Sascoc, must hand in a provisional list of players to the Rio 2016 organisers by the 29th of April. This list will then be reduced to 35 players, to be submitted to Fifa in June, and will ultimately be cut down to a final 18-man squad, plus four alternates.

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