Pienaar still hoping to play against Chelsea

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The Everton midfielder wants to play against Chelsea in the Carling Cup before linking up with his Bafana Bafana team-mates who will be in camp in Durban.

The 25-year-old is one of a host of English Premier League stars who will leave their clubs behind to go to Ghana.

The tournament kicks on January 20 but Pienaar wants to delay his departure until the last possible moment.

The South African squad come together on January 5 but, with the Carling Cup semi-final clash occurring three days later, Pienaar hopes a compromise can be reached.

He told Everton’s website: “I'm supposed to be going on January 5 but we are trying our best so that I can stay for a bit longer.

“I hope we can agree on it because I am in-between at the moment and there is nothing I can do.

“I am like any other player and I want to be involved in the big games. The semi-final with Chelsea is so important and I want to be a part of the team that goes to Stamford Bridge.

“You always want to play for your country but you also always want to play for your club.”

Bafana Bafana start their Nations Cup campaign on January 23 against Angola, raising hopes that a deal can be struck.

“I'm stuck in the middle but I hope the South African Football Association gives me a day free because they know how important this game is for me,” he added.

“It will be sad going away for so long especially when the team is doing so well. The spirit here is tremendous.”

The Bafana management has confirmed that they have received a request from Everton to delay Pienaar’s arrival but nothing has been settled as yet, though it appears likely the Westbury-born midfielder will be granted a limited extra days.

“Pienaar’s matter will be finalised with the coach on Friday. But Everton have been in touch with Raymond Hack (Safa CEO) with regards to delaying Pienaar’s arrival for the Bafana camp,” Sipho Nkumane, the Bafana team manager told snl24.com/kickoff.