SA coach Gordon Igesund finally revealed to the media why he suddenly excluded Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Thulani Serero from the squad to face Botswana, the night before the game
After speculation about what could have gone wrong in the Bafana camp on Friday night, coach Igesund didn't want to let the real reason cloud his teams preparation for their must-win World Cup qualifier against Botswana.
South Africa beat Botswana 4-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, and the coach revealed the secret after the match.
“On Friday, which was yesterday, my assistant coach Serame (Letsoaka) came to me and he said Thulani had approached him to tell him he doesn’t want to play. Serame said Thulani felt that he might get injured and he needs to play for his team (Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League),” said Igesund.
When Igesund heard the news he was shocked after all the hard effort by the squad to prepare for the all-important match, particularly after awarding Serero an opportunity to restake his potential at international level.
“I was quite shocked with that and I called Thulani (Serero), my doctor and assistant coach to a meeting in my room. I asked Thulani if he wants to play and he said he has a tight muscle and he is scared of injuring himself,” he said.
Igesund didn't understand the change of events, after having already been told that all players were available to play.
“On Thursday I had already informed him [Serero] that he’s been excellent at training. He’s performing well and I need him to take it to the next step. I told him that everyone in this country knows he plays in Holland and I asked him to show the people in this country what kind of a player he is,” said Igesund.
“I have been very surprised with his attitude about certain things and the big head he seems to have developed – like he is better than the rest of the players. As for his future with the national team, I don’t like to make hasty decisions. He is going be called to a hearing I suppose and I will give my report to Safa. I have done my job,” he said.
Serero was only sparingly used during the 2013 Afcon as he wasn't fully fit, having just returned from injury. The Ajax Amsterdam attacking midfielder explained to Goal that injury problems hindered on his ability to impress and he was raring to prove himself this time. So, the turn of events is surprising and a Safa hearing will decide his future.
The Ajax man was tipped as a future Bafana star who could be crucial in the countries next campaign to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. South Africa are out of the running of Brazil 2014, because Ethiopia's 2-1 victory away to Central Africa Republic ensures them the top spot in the group.