Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar is being urged to reverse his decision to retire from international football with South Africa.
Pienaar’s decision to stop playing for South Africa means he will miss the Africa Cup of Nations in his home country in January. Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, chairman of the Local Organising Committee, pleaded with Pienaar to change his mind after launching a stinging criticism of the 30-year-old, who used to captain his country.
“I would say to [Steven Pienaar], he must remember that he came from the ghettos in South Africa and he became a national player because the South African FA identified him and developed him to be where he was,” said Nonkonyana.
“He would not have gone to England unless he had some international caps.
"I hope he is listening to me. My plea is for him to reconsider and join the national team.”
Of the decision of Pienaar – and Ghana’s Michael Essien who has been asked to be excused from the tournament – he added: “It cannot be right for any player produced [in Africa] to say I prefer my club
“That is selfishness in my view; it is very egotistical. It is time to instil in every player national pride.”