Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela has jumped to the defence of under-fire fullback Tsepo Masilela following a recent cloud of controversy involving Bafana Bafana. The player was called up to the national team for the international week where South Africa played a crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania, and also the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Senegal three days later. Masilela was a no-show for Bafana, and did not even report for camp to be examined by the national medical team.
According to Chiefs, the player’s recurring knee injury was at the root of it all, something echoed by Komphela: ‘The Tsepo issue is just long and long. But the short part of it is that he’s injured. Even when we signed Tsepo, the recommendation from the medics was that he can only give you 18 months of his career. But he’s gone on. He’s a warrior. We manage the knee. Even here, stuff like jumping he doesn’t do it because the knee hurts.’ Masilela had the nation up in arms when he looked to have snubbed the call-up from Shakes Mashaba, raising questions again on the age old tale of unpatriotic players.
The confusion came when Mashaba told reporters that he did not know where the player was because he was ordered to be there to be assessed. Coming back to the league this past weekend, the former Getafe defender was a notable absentee in the defending champions’ match 18, and although SAFA says this was due to a letter they sent to the PSL that Masilela should not play, Komphela insists this was due to injury: ‘Keegan Ritchie was in for Tsepo Masilela, who by the way was genuinely and honestly injured, that’s why he was not selected. There is nothing as painful as being questioned when you are credible.’
Meanwhile, SAFA’s Head of Communications Dominic Chimhavi confirmed on Power FM on Tuesday that the Association will be taking action against both the club and the player before the end of this week. Chimhavi said: ‘We heard through the media that Chiefs were saying that the player was injured but they didn’t inform us. So both parties will now be hauled before the DC.’ Komphela will be desperate to see this resolved within the next few days so that the player can focus on the upcoming MTN8 final against Ajax Cape Town at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.