Dagga offenses may have added to Under-23s’ Tokyo nightmare

Johannesburg – Incidents of dagga offenses, Covid-19 infections, a near punch-up between an official and a coach, and player withdrawals were some of the factors that contributed to the SA Under-23 having such a nightmare tournament at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, in the last two weeks.

The boys are back in Mzansi after they touched down at the OR Tambo International Airport yesterday. Just prior to their departure, Safa withdrew several players from camp due to various “medical reasons”.

However, Sunday World has it on good authority that not all five were released for medical reasons and that some were removed from the team camp for marijuana transgressions during the team camp in Mpumalanga.

It is alleged that some tests came back positive for marijuana, although the national association would not confirm that. Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe said: “I do not have a case of marijuana because I have not received a report from the medical team. When the tests come back from the lab, and when I get the report, I will be able to talk.”

Safa chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya told Sunday World that they could not divulge the players’ medical withdrawal reasons due to players’ and doctor’s confidentiality. “What I am aware of is that the players were released for medical reasons. I was not in that camp and I cannot divulge medical records of players. It will be an unethical breach of my profession.”

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 31: SAFA CEO Advocate Tebogo Motlanthe during the Bafana Bafana AFCON Update press conference at SAFA House on March 31, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Safa head of delegation and team manager in Tokyo Mxolisi Sibam said: “What I know is what the CEO knows. I get Safa reports that I cannot discuss with you. I have no right to speak to you. If it is a Safa issue, then it is a CEO’s matter.

“I cannot talk about anything, I do not have the power. I am not a head of the department, I am a team manager,” said Sibam, a member of Safa’s national executive committee.

Asked to comment on why some players were dropped on the eve of departure, SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee chef de mission Patience Shikwambana said: “No, we can’t comment, it is a Safa matter as we do not select athletes. It’s the national federations that submit the final list of players for the board’s consideration.”

The Under-23s’ horror run in Tokyo ended on Wednesday after they were drubbed 3-0 by Mexico in the last match of the group stages. The team ended bottom of its group after losing all three games, conceding eight goals and scoring just three in the Games.

SA Under-23 coach David Notoane said that it was not for him to confirm or deny the dagga allegations.

“I can’t divulge a lot, what I know is that they were taken out of the team for medical reasons.”

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