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The Swaziland national team has been dealt a severe blow ahead of the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup as Orlando Pirates have ruled out releasing midfield-cum-striker, Dennis ‘Yuki’ Masina for the sub-continental tournament.

This comes shortly after Masina’s loyalty to the club came under scrutiny.

Orlando Pirates’ Floyd Mbhele has told the Swaziland Times that they have already communicated to the FA of Swaziland that the player will not be released.

“I can’t release ‘Yuki’ because we have a tight schedule and this tournament is not in the FIFA calendar. We would have loved to release him but it’s impossible,” Mbhele said.

Mbhele added that the COSAFA tournament will be staged at the same time that the PSL (Premier Soccer League)  log leaders face Santos at home before playing defending champions SuperSport United. They then play AmaZulu on October 28, before the Soweto derby against traditional rivals, Kaizer Chiefs on October 31.

“These games are crucial to us and we need to have a full strength team. Yuki is part of [coach] Ruud Krol’s plans and we cannot afford not to have him,” he said.

Besides Masina, Jomo Cosmos' Siza ‘King Pele’ Dlamini and University of Pretoria’s Phinda ‘Phindrix’ Dlamini are unlikely to travel.

Swazi international Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze’s agent, Tim Sukazi, confirmed that Santos will release the player for national team duties.

“He needs the game time because right now he is still awaiting his work permit papers. They shouldn’t be a problem with Santos releasing him,” he said.

Jomo Cosmos’ owner, Jomo Sono, could not be reached for comment on whether the trio of Mfanafuthi ‘Taribo’ Bhembe, Felix Badenhorst and Mpendulo ‘Baiano’ Kunene will be released for national duty.

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