Zungu’s Bafana spot in doubt after breaking Covid-19 rules in Scotland
The player, on loan to Rangers, may have also ruined his chance of a permanent move from France’s Amiens
Bongani Zungu’s Covid-19-related indiscretion that will lose him game time at Glasgow Rangers may prevent the key midfielder from being called up for March’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has admitted.
Bafana host Ghana on March 22 and travel to Khartoum in Sudan for their closing match on March 30‚ and the tight situation in Group C means SA may need to win both matches to reach the 2021 Nations Cup.
Ntseki said he and SA Football Association CEO Tebogo Motlanthe had discussed the the news that Zungu was among five Rangers players having to isolate after police broke up a house party that contravened Scotland’s Covid-19 restrictions. They will contact Rangers for more information on Zungu’s transgression, and the player will then be called to give his perspective.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has said the on-loan player’s actions have endangered his chance of securing a permanent move from France’s Amiens.
“It is something we can’t commit ourselves to until we have spoken to the club and the player‚” Ntseki said on Wednesday.
“I was in a meeting with the CEO [Motlanthe, on Monday] addressing this matter. Because as of now we can’t be seen to be commenting on it until we have spoken to the club to find out what actually happened.
“So maybe by the end of business [on Wednesday] we will have spoken to the club. And then a follow-up will be made with the player.”
Ntseki did admit Zungu’s flouting of Covid-19 regulations was alarming from a Bafana perspective. “For now we are very worried about what happened‚ and how is that going to impact negatively on him and Bafana Bafana,” the coach said.
“The next Fifa week of March 21 to 30 is very important for us. Those are two crucial matches. And we should have loved to have had every player in the country available for selection.”
Ntseki‚ who was assistant coach to Stuart Baxter at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Egypt when Zungu was arguably Bafana’s best player‚ is well aware of the midfielder’s quality.
He has also had personal experience of Zungu’s errant ways‚ having had a fallout with the player soon after becoming head coach in late 2019 which resulted in Zungu not being selected in the early part of 2020.
The coach and player mended their relationship‚ and Zungu produced a strong performance off the bench in SA’s 2-0 Afcon qualifying win in Durban against Sao Tome and Principe in November 2020‚ symbolically shaking Ntseki’s hand after scoring.
“In incidents like this we should not be punitive and should try to get more information than we have‚ because we need each other for the success of the team‚ and also for individual success in their careers‚” Ntseki said.
Zungu has been struggling to adapt from the more expressive football of Ligue 1 to the Scottish Premier League’s (SPL’s) renowned pace and physicality.
He has made 11 SPL appearances as a substitute and one start in Rangers’ 30 games‚ having joined the Scottish giants on loan in October‚ two months into the 2020/2021 SPL season.
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