SuperSport United won’t release star players for 2019 U23 Afcon finals

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Notoane's side could be without three starlets, who played an important role in helping Matsatsantsa win the 2019 MTN8 trophy

SuperSport United won’t release South Africa youth internationals Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena and Jamie Webber for national duty.

The talented midfielders are expected to be included in South Africa's final squad which will participate in the 2019 Caf U23 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals which will be hosted by Egypt between 8 and 22 November.

SuperSport's chief executive officer Stan Matthews says they can only release the players if the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the South African Football Association reach an agreement to postpone league matches during the competition.

“The principle is simple. There’s a Fifa calendar in place and we’re going to play by that calendar,” Matthews told Daily Sun.

“Mbule, Mokoena and Webber are important cogs in the SuperSport wheel at the moment. I don’t have other players to replace them with."

The tournament is used as the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games which will be hosted by Japan.

However, the tournament falls outside the Fifa calendar and Matthews is keen to hold onto his players if their matches are not postponed.

“I’ll only release them if the Fifa calendar compels me to. Other than that, I’m going to stick to the calendar and the fixture list of the PSL," he added.

Meanwhile, South Africa U23 head coach David Notoane admitted he was already preparing for life without Mbule, Mokoena and Webber.

“It’s an opportunity for others. We’re aware we might not get some players," Notoane said on the publication.

“I thought it was better to start preparations without them. Negotiations with the PSL and clubs have started for them to give us players.

“We will not be going to Egypt to qualify for the Olympics but win the tournament.”

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Notoane's men are scheduled to take on their Egyptian counterparts in a friendly match in Cairo on Sunday, October 13.

South Africa have been drawn in Group B together with Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Zambia.

The top three teams at the tournament will qualify to represent Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games.

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