CHAN chagrin results in Bafana caps becoming cheap

Players who are unable to hold down first-choice positions with their PSL clubs are earning Bafana caps instead.

The undesirable and curious anomaly whereby South African international soccer caps are becoming cheaper by the dozen is becoming increasingly more prevalent as a result of CAF over-loading its international programme with what is ambiguously known as the African Champions Cup - or in its abbreviated form as CHAN.

Remember too, the event is limited only to players registered with clubs in the country for which they qualify internationally - ruling out not only overseas-based players but also those who are plying their trade in other African countries.

So, as an example of the CHAN chagrin is Saturday's first-leg second-round qualifying game between Bafana and Zambia in East London which clashes with the official opening of the PSL season and has resulted in coach Stuart Baxter being left with what can generously be described as a second-string squad.

Because FIFA does not recognise CHAN as an official competition, PSL clubs, to a large degree, initially made use of their ordained right not to release players for the Zambian game.

Then to complicate matters further for Baxter as he attempted to piece together an effective Bafana jigsaw puzzle, 10 further withdrawals from the original squad made the coach's task a veritable nightmare.

And so the question needs to be asked whether the benefits of CHAN to blood up-and-coming players outweigh the chaos and confusion by adding to an itinerary that includes World Cup commitments and qualifying segments and the finals of the FIFA-recognised biennial African Nations Cup.

As matters stand, Africa has with the Nations Cup and CHAN taken into account a hectically-compiled competition at international level every year. Europe, by comparison, has one such competition every four years!

CAF could ease the consequent congestion and largely artificial rating of CHAN if it feels obliged to pursue with the event by designating it the status of a subsidiary nursery for promising players, but not recognising matches as full-scale internationals - much as cricket does with A-category representative fixtures.
And, in the process, international soccer caps would only be awarded to those to whom they should rightly be decreed - the best players in the land!