Thulani Serero tried to manipulate his country in order to ensure he was fully fit for Champions League duty with his Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund revealed on Saturday. A faked injury that led to the huge bust-up between Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund and Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Thulani Serero led to the player being shown the door from the Bafana camp.
The 23-year-old was released from the South African camp for disciplinary reasons on the eve of their crucial Soccer World Cup qualifier against Botswana, although no reasons were given at the time.
“He said he had a tight muscle and he was scared of injuring himself,” Igesund told an extended news conference after Bafana’s 4-1 win over the Zebras in Durban.
“I informed him on Thursday that he’s looking excellent and he will start on Saturday.
“But then he went to my doctor to tell him he has a tight muscle in his thigh and groin area. The doctor checked him up and he was fine.
“He was called up here and he was fit to play. If he wasn’t fit, he should have just said I’m injured, but not once did he tell anyone of us that.”
The problem initially started when Serero told medical chief Carl Tabane he did not want to play because of the injury. But after being cleared, he informed the doctor there was a “big Champions League game in Holland next week, which he couldn’t afford to miss”. But rumours also say that the midfielder was upset because he was dropped from the starting line-up.
He said the same thing to assistant coach Serame Letsoaka, who informed Igesund after which an hour-long meeting was held.
South Africa went on to win the match on Saturday, although they missed out on reaching the final stages of qualifying after Ethiopia beat Central African Republic 2-1 to top Group A.
Serero’s club face Spanish giants Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
“There was no patriotism there, it was something I couldn’t take, especially when I have a bunch of players that want to play for South Africa and want to pull on that Bafana Bafana jersey,” Igesund, who conceded that Serero was arrogant at the meeting, explained.
“I’m very surprised by his attitude and the big head he seems to have developed, like he’s better than the rest of the players there.
“The truth of the matter is that ThulaniSerero turned his back on us because he wants to play in the Champions League. That is insulting in my opinion.”
The national coach said he was more surprised by the attitude of the player considering that his club coach at Ajax, Frank de Boer, wanted him to gain game-time after only recently returning from injury.
“He (de Boer) said the player (Serero) has been doing well and just needed game time.
“So I don’t know what went wrong,” Igesund said.
Igesund did not say whether he thought the former Ajax Cape Town forward Serero would play for the national team in the future or not.
“I don’t like to make quick and hasty decisions.
“He’ll have to face a hearing I suppose, I’ll give my report into SAFA (SA Football Association) and I honestly believe I’ve done my job.
“I’ve done what’s right for the team and for the country. I had to make the decision and I stand by it. Some might say it harsh, but under no circumstances do I feel it’s harsh. You’ve got to face up to your responsibility.”