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Monday, May 12, 2003

Pienaar ruled out of South Africa squad

JOHANESBURG, May 12 (Reuters) - South African midfielder Steven Pienaar will miss his country's international against England next week because of club commitments, the South African Football Association said on Monday.

Steven Pienaar: Club commitment (AlexLivesey/GettyImages)

The 22-year-old, who plays for Ajax Amsterdam, would not be selected for the squad to play England in Durban on May 22, South Africa team manager Stanley Tshabalala said.

Pienaar's club still have an outside chance of retaining the Dutch championship title and are also fighting for a berth in European club competition at the same time.

Ajax play their penultimate league match against Twente Enschede on May 25.

Pienaar's absence comes as a blow to South Africa, who are expected to have similar problems obtaining the release of other players based both in Russia, where the new season is just two months old, and Germany, where play continues until May 24.

South African coach Ephraim Mashaba is expected to name his squad for the match on Thursday.

soccernet
 

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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Dom Raynor

Bafana get tough for historic clash

Dominic Raynor

When Sven Goran Eriksson's team walk out in Durban's Absa Stadium on Thursday night it will be the first time England have officially faced South Africa on their home turf.

Lucas Radebe: Bone of contention (TonyMarshall/Empics)

Although the English FA sent amateur 'test' teams to face Bafana Bafana up until 1956, when former England manager Sir Bobby Robson travelled with the team, they were never recognised as proper internationals and the informal visits later ceased due to South Africa's apartheid-enforced isolation.

After the restrictions were lifted on a newly integrated South Africa in the early nineties the FA invited their national team to Old Trafford for a friendly in 1997, which they lost 2-1, but to date England are yet to place a boot on South African soil.

To mark the historical significance of Thursday's clash the England squad will meet former president Nelson Mandela - a man who did much to crush apartheid - the day before the match, while the actual football promises to produce far less grandeur.

Or at least it did until South Africa decided to do everything within their power to ensure that their best players are on display. The South African Football Association (SAFA) even went as far as removing coach Ephraim Mashaba for the match as they did not agree with the new manager's low key selection policy.

Mashaba originally announced a squad that included only one overseas player - Germinal Beerschot defender Aaron Mokoena - after ignoring a request from SAFA to include Bafana's big-name oversees stars for a game designed to showcase South Africa's World Cup 2010 bid.

Mashaba's inexperienced squad was a protest at the high-profile players' past refusals to attend internationals. A list of shame that icluded Leeds United's Lucas Radebe, Charlton Athletic's Shaun Bartlett and Celta Vigo's Benni McCarthy.

However, the SAFA did not share Mashaba's moral stance, especially with a multi-million pound World Cup bid in the balance, and they removed the coach for the England clash to install former boss Jomo Sono instead.

SAFA puppet Sono, who only quit Bafana Bafana after a poor showing at last summer's World Cup, duly selected the required stars in a shiny new squad that included Radebe, Bartlett, McCarthy, Quinton Fortune and various other players who ply their trade abroad.

In comparison, Sven Goran Eriksson's attempts to get tough on player selection, after being hugely criticised for the Australia friendly debacle, by selecting Everton striker Wayne Rooney against his manager's wishes simply pale into insignificance.

Eriksson, who fielded a different team in each half against the Aussies after bowing to club pressure, selected Rooney despite Everton boss David Moyes' extreme displeasure about the 17-year-old being asked to travel 9,000 miles for a friendly.

Moyes insisted that the youngster should be spared the trip after some fatigued performances towards the end of the season. When it was announced that Rooney had suffered medial ligament damage after the final game of the season and could not join up with England sceptical glances were cast towards Goodison Park.

And when Eriksson announced his squad for England's triple header - a friendly against Serbia and Montenegro precludes the Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia - the Swede included Rooney, much to Moyes' dismay.

Wayne Rooney: Bone of contention (MatthewAshton/Empics)

However, after a medical conducted in London by England doctor Leif Sward, at which both the England and Everton boss were present, it was concluded that the injury was bona fide and that Rooney would not have to travel to South Africa. Instead, he would join the squad for their six-day training camp in La Manga, baring any set back with his knee, on Friday.

In Eriksson's defence he has insisted that his injured players join up with the England squad ever since Paul Scholes was withdrawn with an injury by Manchester United, only to play a Premiership game four days before September's clash with Portugal.

But Sven's selection problems did not end there.

The England boss had understandably said that he would not require any of Arsenal's or Southampton's FA Cup finalists to play so soon after such a big game and in doing so robbed himself of his first choice left-back, Ashley Cole, and his back-up Wayne Bridge.

Southampton striker James Beattie, the Premiership's leading English goalscorer, was also out of the picture. Arsenal centre-back Sol Campbell had picked up an injury before the squad announcement on May 12, as did Manchester United duo Gary Neville and Nicky Butt, Newcastle defender Jonathan Woodgate and Everton goalkeeper Richard Wright.

Since then Eriksson has seen Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy withdrawn from the squad and ruled out for the summer, Newcastle's Kieron Dyer has followed suit (again) and now Chelsea centre-back John Terry is looking doubtful for the Durban clash.

West Ham United's Joe Cole and Aston Villa's Gareth Barry, who have both been relegated to the Under-21's under Eriksson since making senior debuts early in their careers, benefit from the withdrawals. The scenario is such, that anybody not injured and not in the depleted squad can count themselves a very long way off making it.

So despite Sven's initially determination to banish the criticism that surrounds his selection policy for England friendlies with a show of steel, he may now have to rethink his strategy and once again wrap his big name performers in cotton wool until the competitive showdown with Slovakia.

South Africa squad:

Goalkeepers: Brian Baloyi (Kaizer Chiefs), Moneeb Josephs (Ajax Cape Town)

Defenders: Tony Coyle (Wits University), Lucky Lekgwathi, Mbulelo Mabizela (Orlando Pirates), Aaron Mokoena (Germinal Beerschot, Belgium), Thabang Molefe (Jomo Cosmos), Lucas Radebe (Leeds United, England), Bradley Carnell (VfB Stuttgart, Germany) or Jacob Lekgetho (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia)

Midfielders: Delron Buckley (VfL Bochum, Germany), Quinton Fortune (Manchester United, England), Stanton Fredericks (Kaizer Chiefs), Clement Mazibuko (Umtata Bush Bucks), Jabulani Mendu (Moroka Swallows), Tebeho Mokoena (Jomo Cosmos), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Sibusiso Zuma (FC Copenhagen, Denmark)

Strikers: Shaun Bartlett (Charlton Athletic, England), Mabhudi Khanyeza (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Benni McCarthy (Celta Vigo, Spain), Lesley Manyathela (Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga Nomvete (Udinese, Italy)
England squad:

Goalkeepers: James (West Ham), Robinson (Leeds), Walker (Leicester)

Defenders: A Cole* (Arsenal), Bridge* (Southampton), Mills (Leeds), P Neville (Man Utd), Ferdinand (Man Utd), Southgate (Middlesbrough), Terry (Chelsea), Upson (Birmingham City)

Midfielders: Beckham (Man Utd), Scholes (Man Utd), J Cole (West Ham), Jenas (Newcastle), Hargreaves* (Bayern Munich), Barry (Aston Villa), Lampard (Chelsea), Gerrard (Liverpool), Sinclair (West Ham)

Forwards: Owen (Liverpool), Heskey (Liverpool), Rooney* (Everton), Vassell (Aston Villa), Beattie* (Southampton).

* Will join the squad after friendly with South Africa.
David Beckham leaves the squad after the South Africa game, as he is suspended for the Euro 2004 qualifier.

soccernet
 

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International Friendly Preview: South Africa V England
South Africa - England | Latest News | News Archive

Beckham sports his new hair style (Getty Images)
05/21/2003. BACKGROUND

South Africa welcome England's football team to their soil for the first time on Thursday for a friendly international that means much more to the hosts than to Sven Goran Eriksson's side, who are full of players exhausted from the end of their domestic seasons.

England's players travelled across South Africa to Johannesburg on Wednesday to meet former South African president Nelson Mandela, who took advantage of the high profile occasion to send a plea to England to back their bid for the 2010 World Cup, which is arguably the purpose of this match.

England will argue that this represent an ideal warm-up opportunity ahead of next months crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia, although before that Eriksson's side face Serbia & Montenegro in another friendly.

Eriksson won't be taking the game too lightly and will insist on a better performance shown by his side in their last friendly, which saw Australia win 3-1 at Upton Park on a disastrous night for the face of English football. England also have the record of having never lost to an African nation to keep.

South Africa's preparations for this match have been bizarre to say the least. Their coach Shakes Mashaba was suspended for this match by South Africa's 2010 World Cup Bid Committee after they disagreed with his squad selection.

Mashaba had refused to call up a host of foreign based players for the match and after failing to back down he was stripped of his role and Bafana Bafana's 2002 World Cup coach Jomo Sono was recalled for one match only.

TEAM NEWS

South Africa are without exciting youngster Sibusiso Zuma after his club FC Copenhagen refused him permission to play in this friendly. Sono is set to include Premiership based Lucas Radebe and Shaun Bartlett in his starting line-up, while there is a question mark over Manchester United's Quinton Fortune's availability.

Since naming his squad Eriksson has lost Kieron Dyer, Danny Murphy and most high profile of all Wayne Rooney. John Terry travelled with the squad, but it also set to miss out, while players such as Sol Campbell, Jonathan Woodgate, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, who would usually be involved, are injury. Ashley Cole, Wayne Bridge, James Beattie have also not travelled to South Africa due to their involvement in the FA Cup final.

David James looks to be England's number one now and he will continue between the posts on Thursday. Gareth Southgate should partner Rio Ferdinand in the centre of defence in the absence of Campbell, while Mills will return to right-back. Phil Neville is set to fill the left-back position, as England are without their first and second choice players in that department. Trevor Sinclair should fill the left-wing position, while the rest of England's midfield will be a full strength. Finally, Liverpool's strike pairing of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen should get the nod upfront. Eriksson is set to make a host of changes, although maybe not a repeat of the XI he made against the Socceroos.

POSSIBLE STARTING LINE-UPS

South Africa: 4-4-2 - Baloyl; Mablzela, Radebe, Makoena, Molefe; Fredericks, Sibaya, Mokoena (or Fotune), Buckley; Bartlett, McCarthy.

England: 4-4-2 - James, Mills, Southgate, Ferdinand, P Neville; Beckham, Gerrard, Scholes, Sinclair; Heskey, Owen.

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Soccernet say Fortune is "AWOL" - the SAFA can't get hold of him.

Most likely he's on a physio's table somewhere... ;)
 

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Report: Heskey Gives England South Africa Win
South Africa - England | Latest News | Match Report | News Archive

Southgate headed England infront early on (Allsport)
05/22/2003. England have beaten South Africa 2-1 in Durban in a high profile friendly international, although the win was marred by a thumb injury sustained by David Beckham.

England stormed into the lead through Gareth Southgate after 40 seconds, but Benni McCarthy levelled from the spot after 18 minutes. However, on 65 minutes Emile Heskey restored Sven Goran Eriksson's sides advantage.

England raced forward from the kick off and won an early corner, which David Beckham floated into the danger area. Middlesbrough defender Gareth Southgate took advantage of terrible marking to head England into the lead inside the opening minute.

Michael Owen should have doubled England's lead after South Africa's goalkeeper Brian Baloyi spilled a Beckham free-kick, but he managed to deny Owen from close range and the Liverpool striker then blasted over. Baloyi was able to hold onto another Beckham effort soon after, but remained a liability throughout the match.

The home side pulled level when a cross deflected off the arm of Danny Mills and the referee pointed to the spot, which was a harsh decision. Celta Vigo's striker McCarthy cooly slotted past David James to level the match.

South Africa could have gone in at half time ahead, but McCarthy blasted over the bar from a good position after a find move by South Africa.

Eriksson introduced Paul Robinson and Matthew Upson at half time, but soon into the second half had to make another change as David Beckham fell awkwardly and injured his arm. The England captain was taken to hospital for an x-ray after leaving the pitch and it is understood he had fractured his thumb, although his loss won't effect England as he was to take no part in the remaining two matches of this summer.

The second half was extremely tepid, as neither side were prepared to take gambles. England introduced Frank Lampard and the Chelsea midfielder had a positive impact on proceedings. His 35 yard effort was spilled by the poor Baloyi and Heskey was at hand to convert the rebound.
England's squad will now spend five days at a training camp at La Manga before facing Serbia & Montenegro in another friendly and Slovakia in a Euro 2004 qualifier.

soccerage
 

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McCarthy is usually great if Sono is there too, it's a shame that we can't find a good keeper. I don't know if Vonk is still available, but the sooner they drop Baloyi and Arendse the better.:depress:
 

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FA Consider Legal Action Against South Africa Comments
South Africa - England | Latest News | News Archive

FA strongly rejects claims (Getty Images)
05/26/2003. The Football Association could take legal action after reports alleged it had reached a contract with South Africa to guarantee David Beckham's appearance in Thursday's friendly in Durban.

A number of newspapers claimed the two countries had reached a deal worth ?m after the executive of South Africa's 2010 World Cup bid, Danny Jordaan, was quoted on the subject.

FA spokesman Adrian Bevington told the Sun: "The contract was agreed several months ago, well before we could know who was available because of Champions League commitments.

"We have never guaranteed any player as part of a contract - and have no plans to do so in future.

"We are extremely unhappy with these allegations and have instructed our lawyers to act upon them."

Jordaan has also tried to distance himself from reports.

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