JOHANNESBURG — Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar has officially retired from international football and therefore, he is no longer available for Bafana Bafana.
Report by Supersport/BBC Sport
“Schillo” sent a message to Bafana coach Gordon Igesund and Safa CEO Raymond Hack late on Monday stating his intentions to quit the national team.
“It is with regret that I wish to inform you that I’m not available for the national team,” Pienaar wrote.
Pienaar has served the nation for 10 years and Igesund says the nation must “respect” his decision” to call it quits.
Greece-based defender Bongani Khumalo will now take over as captain.
The 30-year-old’s bombshell decision was announced by Igesund yesterday as he unveiled his Bafana Bafana squad to face Poland and Kenya in friendlies next week.
Speculation had been mounting that Pienaar was set to call time on his South Africa career to concentrate on playing for Everton.
Igesund told reporters that he received a phone call from Pienaar on Monday night informing him of his decision to retire with immediate effect.
“I’m proud to have played for and captained my country, and for that I thank you,” the Everton midfielder said.
Igesund has named defender Bongani Khumalo as Bafana Bafana’s new captain and admitted it is unlikely Pienaar will play for his country again.
“The way Steven Pienaar has retired is the right way. I think it was a tough decision for him,” he said. Pienaar made his international debut in 2002, and has featured for the national side at two World Cups.
The 30-year-old withdrew from last month’s matches against Brazil and Mozambique with an injury, only to then appear in Everton’s starting line-up just days later.
The Everton midfielder is just the latest in a long line of Bafana players to become embroiled in a “club v country” debate over the years.
Benni McCarthy retired from international football after the 2002 World Cup in order to concentrate on his career in Europe before eventually returning to the fold.
Mark Fish “retired” more than once, whilst Shaun Bartlett quit international football in order to win a new contract with his club side Charlton.
Meanwhile, Harambee Stars will converge on Monday ahead of their International friendly match with Bafana Bafana scheduled for October 16th at Nyayo Stadium.
MacDonald Mariga who has been sidelined since early April after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament makes his return.
Stars have been absent on continental scene after they suffered their African Cup of Nations exit at the hands of Togo.
Hence, this will be their first competitive match as they gear up preparations ahead of Cecafa Tusker Challenge Cup and the World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria.
“The boys will pitch camp on Monday but at the request of the coach we are expected to shift the base. The list of the foreign-based that will join the rest of the squad will be released soon since the coach is coming up with the names,” FKF CEO Lordvick Aduda told supersport.com.
South Africa will make a stopover at Nairobi on their way back from Poland where they have pencilled a fixture.
The foreign-based players expected are: Christian Bwamy, Arnold Origi, McDonald Mariga, Jerry Santo, Dennis Oliech, Brian Mandela, Patrick Oboya, Ayub Timbe and Victor Wanyama.
The friendly will be Michel’s first match in charge of the side.