Bafana must shelve off-field problems tonight

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Last week the Premier Soccer League's scheduling of seven matches on Wednesday resulted in Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira having just one training session compared to five by the United States in Saturday's Nelson Mandela Challenge.

This week Orlando Pirates tried to withdraw midfielders Bennett Chenene and Teko Modise from the team to meet Canada.

Following the Bafana technical team's threat to go to Fifa to sanction Pirates, Chenene, whom the Buccaneers claim was injured in the weekend’s friendly Moqhaka Charity Cup tournament, was due to arrive last night. For Modise the SA camp’s response was simply not to release the playmaker, who took part in yesterday’s training session at King's Park.

“I don’t want to complain all the time but for a big game like that [against the USA] we had one training session with a full squad the day before the game and it is not advisable to push the players that much,” Parreira said yesterday of the disruptive build-up to Bafana's 1-0 defeat on Saturday.

“Chenene was supposed to report for duty 48 hours before the game [against Canada], so perhaps there was a misunderstanding with Pirates.”

While parties in South African football continue to pull in all directions rather than focusing on the common goal of building a competitive Bafana team for the 2010 World Cup, yesterday Parreira was looking ahead to tonight’s game.

“We know some players and their results," he said of the 51st-ranked Canadians. “They did very well in the last Concacaf Gold Cup where they won almost all their games and only lost 2-1 to [eventual winners] the USA.

“Of the squad of 17 players, 16 play in Europe, so it is not a naïve team - it is not a Canadian team but a Canadian-European team,” the coach added.

Canada, steadily improving on the world stage, include Tottenham Hotspur defender Paul Staltieri and Deportivo la Coruna midfielder Julian de Guzman in their ranks.

Parreira said he expects the North Americans to be similar in style to USA.

“They are physically strong and well built, so we have to use our strength which is pace, technique and skill. We cannot go for contact. If we put the ball on the ground I am absolutely certain we are going to have a good game.”

The SA coach, forced to use Ricardo Katza at left-back against USA after injuries to Bradley Carnell, Brett Evans and Tshepo Masilela, will wait on fitness tests to Masilela and left-wing Siphiwe Tshabalala before finalizing his starting line-up.

Masilela took part in yesterday's full training session, while Tshabalala pulled up with a muscle strain.

The Brazilian coach's shadow line-up had Rowen Fernandez at goalkeeper, and a defence of Bryce Moon, Benson Mhlongo, Bevan Fransman and Masilela. Lance Davids, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Modise and Tshabalala were in midfield behind Lerato Chabangu and Terror Fanteni up-front.