South Africa cancel China friendly game

Germany, April 24, 2010 (AFP) - South Africa's worrisome preparations for the 2010 World Cup have taken another twist with Bafana Bafana's friendly match against China getting called off Saturday.

The Chinese Football Association blamed the cancellation of the match - planned for Wednesday, 28 April in Offenbach - on the recent volcanic ash eruptions.

"We have been making all the necessary preparations for this game, but as the Iceland volcanic eruption has affected most flights between China and Europe, it is very difficult for us to travel to Europe at this stage," said the Chinese federation in a letter to the South African Football Association and published on the SAFA's website.

"We need to ensure that all players return to China after the match on time to participate in the Chinese Super League to be staged the following day."

The move left South African officials scrambling looking for a replacement for China for the friendly date.

"We are currently working on plan B," said SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe, who was in Germany for a visit to the Bafana Bafana training camp in Herzogenaurach.

"We are currently looking at playing a local team in the Bundesliga, alternatively one of the associations. We are talking to at least two at the moment. We just have to make the best of the situation," added Sedibe.

He also said the SAFA would address the issue with FIFA, adding: "This is something that we will take up with FIFA, because we had agreement with China FA. Whilst we understand the challenge restrictions occasioned by the volcanic eruption in Iceland, this is not the type of news we were expecting."

The China match is the second friendly which South Africa had cancelled due to the Icelandic volcano after Estonia called off an international encounter planned for Saturday, 24 April because they could not fly to Germany.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira came to Germany complaining about the quality of friendly matches the SAFA was able to line up during their training camp in Germany.

And the Brazilian coach was hardly thrilled with the latest development to his Herzogenaurach camp. "I am not happy, this is a big blow for us. We need the players to be playing matches," said Parreira, whose team played to a goalless draw against North Korea last Thursday in the only friendly played in Germany.

"I am really disappointed because the team is preparing hard and preparations are not just about training - we need games where you can see players and work on certain aspects of their game."

Parreira is already dealing with missing nearly all of his foreign-based players for both the previous training camp in Brazil and the camp in Germany.

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