Everton coach is all for Pienaar playing for Bafana
EVERTON were not behind Steven Pienaar's decision to quit Bafana.
This was made clear yesterday by the English Premier League club's manager David Moyes.
Moyes said on the club's website that he had actually encouraged his players to perform at international level.
"It hones their game and makes them better players," said Moyes.
Pienaar, 30, sent a letter to the South African Football Association last week informing them of his retirement from international football.
The midfielder would in all probability have been selected to play for Bafana at the Nations Cup in South Africa early next year, possibly even as captain.
But he would also have missed a crucial chunk of the English Premier League. Whether Moyes would have still backed Pienaar to play for his country is uncertain.
The retirement advice received from Pienaar's business manager Rob Moore by Safa last Monday - less than 24 hours before coach Gordon Igesund announced his squad for the coming games against Poland and Kenya - said the strain of combining club and international duties was now proving a burden.
"After having given more than 10 years' service to the national team, I am now at a stage where physically I am struggling to balance the duties of playing in England with the number of games required by the national team," Pienaar said.
Paradoxically, Pienaar is currently playing some of the best soccer of his career.
Before his "retirement", Pienaar had also withdrawn from Bafana's games against Brazil and Mozambique, citing a leg injury.
At the time, Everton confirmed they had "no injury problems" and Pienaar did not miss any games for his club.
Igesund said it was Pienaar's prerogative to decide on his future.
"Maybe he'll change his mind in the future, but I'm not thinking at all about that right now. I'm interested in the players who want to play for their country at this crucial juncture, not those who make themselves unavailable."