Safa slams Burkina Faso coach claims

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pretoria - The South African Football Association (Safa) has strongly refuted claims made by Burkina Faso coach Paolo Duarte that his team's 3-0 loss to Bafana Bafana was because of Safa's "dirty tricks."

After the international friendly match played at Johannesburg's Coca-Cola Park on Wednesday, Duarte through a translator, accused Safa of destabilising his side to gain advantage of winning the encounter.

Duarte told reporters that he only had one regular player because his other players, who are a core of his squad, were stuck in their respective countries where they play football as a result of Safa's "dirty tricks."

According to the West Africans head coach, he wanted his whole team to meet in Paris from their various destinations so that they can travel as a group.

Duarte was quoted in the media saying: "The problems that we faced were that of planning and organisation. The game was organised by Safa and not the Burkina Faso Football Association.

"Due to that poor planning, I only had 50 percent of the players and probably that was a strategy by Safa. I really wanted to stop the team from playing this match, but I let it go because of the respect I have for South Africa and the spectators. I'm very sad because this will affect our rankings."

Slamming Duarte's allegations, Safa's media officer, Matlhomola Morake, said the head of delegation of the Burkina Faso Association (BFA), Ledi Ousmane Sawadogo, has cleared Safa of any wrongdoing, adding that the South Africans did what was asked of them by the BFA.

Morake said the travel bookings for the delegation were confirmed by 28 July and duly forwarded to the BFA.

He said between 28 July and 7 August, many changes were made by the BFA to the routes, travel times and names of players.

"We were not aware that the coach wanted the team to meet in Paris and worked according to the directions of the BFA, who confirmed that it was easier and cheaper for other players to fly direct to South Africa. Most of the players the coach wanted did not even check in their tickets," Morake said.

Morake further said Duarte's statement that four of his selected players were either injured or denied releases by their teams directly contradicts his allegations that Safa had undermined his efforts to field his preferred team.

"Some Burkina Faso players could not travel because they had no visas which is no fault of Safa since visas are arranged only from outside the country by the individuals who require such.

"We also noted with interest that the coach initially called up 28 players, when the agreed number of the travelling delegation allowed for only 30 persons, including the technical team, head of delegation and everyone else involved with the team," he said.

The former SABC sports journalist said it was unfortunate that Safa had been drawn into a dispute between the BFA and its head coach.

"The BFA head of delegation and the coach had contradicted each other on every aspect of the arrangements for this match.

"This matter is between the two parties and should not involve Safa, which did everything in its power to get the team here.

"We note with regret this state of affairs and will express our disappointment with the behaviour of the coach after we had established a healthy relationship with our sister federation, the BFA," he said.

Bafana used the match against Burkina Faso to fine tune their skills ahead of their away crucial 2012 Afcon match next month against Niger.

The win against the West Africans would help boost Bafana's ranking, which could be crucial when the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations finals is made, assuming Mosimane's team qualify.

Burkina Faso is ranked 39th in the world and 4th in the CAF zone, as compared to South Africa's 49th and 7th placing in the respective categories.

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