Andile Jali and Lebogang Phiri will miss the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after the two players were denied permission to travel to the global showpiece by their European clubs.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced Rio-bound Team SA in Johannesburg on Wednesday and the two players were notable absentees from the Junior Bafana list.
Jali was to be one of the overage players in SA under-23 coach Owen da Gama’s squad‚ but his Belgian club KV Oostende turned down the midfielder’s call-up.
Denmark-based Lebogang Phiri suffered a similar fate when his club Brondby also turned down the request.
The Olympic Games are not played on dates designated by Fifa for international matches and this enabled KV Oostende and Brondby to turn down the call-ups without risking sanction from the world football governing body.
South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Dennis Mumble told Times Media Digital that while they would have loved to have all the European-based players they wanted on board‚ their clubs were well within their rights to turn down the requests.
‘‘There are a number of players that we considered and whether they were able to be released by their clubs is another matter‚” Mumble said.
‘‘There are some players from overseas that the coach selected and because this is not really a Fifa date‚ even though it is a Fifa competition‚ it is not on the Fifa calender and the teams were still left to decide on their own as to whether they would release players or not.
‘‘We did our best to get a number of players from abroad‚ especially from the European leagues‚ and that was not successful.”
Kaizer Chiefs gave Da Gama something to smile about when the glamour club agreed to the release of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and defender Eric Mathoho.
Mumble said they were grateful to the Premier Soccer League after the league’s decision to delay the start of the season to accommodate the Olympics.
‘‘We must thank our PSL for really bending over backwards in facilitating the release of the players by suspending the kickoff of the new season to cater for the Olympic Games.
‘‘So we really have to say first and foremost this league is serious about us doing well in these Olympic Games. So we have to thank our league first and foremost.”
Da Gama and his charges did not attend the announcement as they are already in camp.
But there were a few Banyana Banyana players in attendance who arrived to soak in the occasion before their departure to Rio.
SA Under-23 squad:
Jody February‚ Itumeleng Khune‚ Ishmael Mngonyama‚ Rivaldo Coetzee‚ Abbubaker Mobara‚ Mothobi Mvala‚ Erick Mathoho‚ Tebogo Moerane‚ Tercious Malepe‚ Gift Motupa‚ Maphosa Modiba‚ Deolin Mekoa‚ Phumlani Ntshangase‚ Keagan Dolly‚ Tyroane Sandows‚ Lebogang Mothiba‚ Menzi Masuka‚ Tashreeq Morris
Roxanne Barker‚ Amanda Dlamini‚ Andile Dlamini‚ Refiloe Jane‚ Bambanani Mbane‚ Mamello Makhabane‚ Stephanie Malherbe‚ Noko Matlou‚ Sanah Mollo‚ Robyn Moodaly‚ Linda Motlhalo‚ Octavia Nogwanya‚ Nompumelelo Nyandeni‚ Lebohang Ramalepe‚ Jermaine Seoposenwe‚ Leandra Smeda‚ Janine Van Wyk‚ Nothando Vilakazi