The Socceroos farewell friendly next week is facing a major crisis with opponents South Africa hit by a mass exodus of players.
Star players including Crystal Palace-based midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi and FC Rostov defender Siyanda Xulu have pulled the plug on the tour with a host of others following suit.
Players from domestic Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, in particular, have been late withdrawals.
South Africa is due to play Australia on Monday and New Zealand on Friday (May 30) but Bafana Bafana is struggling to assemble a squad.
The game was scheduled to leave fans and players with a good vibe before the Socceroos fly out for the World Cup in Brazil. Australia will face a much sterner test when they take on Croatia on June 7 in the lead-up to the tournament kick-off.
“I can't give any details right now,” Bafana coach Gordon Igesund told IOL Sport on Monday.
“We are trying to solve the problem and we'll be in a position to give details of the situation at a media conference at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday morning.”
Igesund, who was banking his future as national team coach on good results against the Aussies and Kiwis, indicated there were unlikely to be enough players to hold a training session on Tuesday.
Increasingly it looks like the best case scenario will be a hastily cobbled together side from a mish-mash of domestic clubs to face the Socceroos.
IOL Sport quoted an unnamed official as saying: “At this stage, we have more officials and invited media booked to go to Australia than players. It's a disaster if something can't be sorted out.”
The team is due to leave for Australia on Wednesday.
Dikgacoi withdrew from the squad to undergo an operation on his leg but other players are blaming an exhausting season for pulling out of the tour.
Other reports suggest at least seven of the players are injured after the PSL ended on May 10.
According to Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter, Bafana’s preferred goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, striker Bernard Parker and midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala need surgery.
"All three of our players will go for surgery," Baxter said on Monday.
"Parker's knee looks like he should not be playing. We gave them painkillers in our last matches. We have spoken to Igesund and their technical team and he understands the situation.
"Look, it's the doctors who made these decisions not the coaches. We have always supported Bafana by making our players available whenever they were needed."
At least four from the Chief’s bitter rivals, Orlando Pirates, are said to be injured, also withdrawing from the tour.
Both clubs finished in the top four of the PSL this season and will leave a significant hole in the Bafana ranks.
The games fall outside FIFA-sanctioned international match days and players cannot be compelled to go but the SA Football Association (SAFA) officials are said to be in desperate negotiations with local clubs to try and broker a speedy resolution.
South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup but failed to qualify for the 2014 global showpiece.1 comment