Foreign footballers in South Africa face precarity as COSAFA enters knockout stage

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African soccer players based in South Africa who have been offloaded by South African Clubs could be deported if they fail to find new clubs within three months or leave the country.

This was said following queries to the SA Home Affairs department by a South African soccer magazine with regards to foreign players that are being released during the transfer window period.

The department says that players are issued work permits for a specific club and a specific time period.

“If a player is released and taken off the club’s books before that period ends, the only way he can stay in South Africa to look for an alternative club, is to change his visa status to that of a visitor,” the RSA Home Affairs spokesperson is quoted as saying.

“The visitor’s visa is valid for three months only and is a one-off issue, after that the player has to leave the country or face the prospect of being arrested as an illegal immigrant and placed in a detention centre prior to deportation back to his home land,” he added.

South African teams are allowed to sign only five foreign players each.
Currently, almost every Southern African country has several players plying their trade in South Africa.

Meanwhile, South Africa was drawn directly into the quarter-finals of this year’s Cosafa (Council of Southern Football Associations) Senior Challenge.

A total of 14 countries are competing, but the top six according to the latest Fifa rankings have been handed byes into the knockout stage, including South Africa.

The other eight teams were divided into two groups, to be played in Witbank and Secunda from the start of the tournament from July 19-24.

Swaziland and the three Indian Ocean islands – Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles – were drawn in Group A, while Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and newcomers the Comoros Islands play in Group B.

The Group B winner then goes onto to meet South Africa in the quarter-final at Witbank’s eMalenhle Puma Stadium on July 26.

All group matches are in Witbank on July 19, 21 and 23 while Group B is hosted in Secunda on July 20, 22 and 24.

All match days will have double header attractions with the group winners only advancing to the next phase.

South Africa and the Group B winner open the quarter-final stage, followed by Angola against the Group A winner, also in Witbank on July 26.

The other two quarter-finals will be played in Secunda on July 27 when Zimbabwe meet Zambia and Botswana take on Mozambique.

The semifinals will be played at Thulamahashe on July 30 and the final and third pace play-off is at the same venue on August 3.

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