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Safa Open The Door For Bartlett's Return 20/02/04
Recently retired Bafana Bafana marksman, Sean Bartlett, could well be making a re-appearance for the national team, according to the SA Football Association (Safa) hierarchy.

The ace Charlton Athletic striker announced his decision to retire in October, citing reasons that the he wished to concentrate on his club career and family commitments, but he appears to have had a rethink following comments he made earlier in the week.

"It is something I have to think about," Bartlett is reported as saying.

"The authorities have said they would welcome me back and that they haven't accepted my retirement.

"I might be going back but there is another African Cup of Nations in 2006, so I have to decide whether to take part in that or not as well.

Safa have now released a statement indicating that they have not accepted the former Cape Town Spurs player's original decision to retire.

Safa chief executive Albert Mokoena said: In fact with Shaun Bartlett, when we got his letter of retirement from international football, I spoke to him to find out is he was not willing to reconsider his decision.

He indicated that he was willing to talk to us soon after the African Cup of Nations. So the door has always been open for him.

This knowledge would prove of immense value to a host of other Bafana exiles. Bartlett's decision had a ripple effect with fellow former Cape Town player, Benni McCarthy, also announcing his retirement to concentrate on club career with FC Porto in Portugal.

Mark Fish who is a teamate of Bartlett's at Charlton in England also announced his retirement due to sheer frustration aimed at Safa, while McBeth Sibaya announced he was no longer available for selection while in Tunisia with the national squad.

Mokoena held his olive branch out to these players too.

When you extend the gesture to one player, you can't close the door on the other players unless its for serious misconduct, said Mokoena.

Mokoena clearly seems to be trying to resolve the recent conflicts between players and administrators and even had a few comforting words for Bafana's prodigal son, Quinton Fortune.

The skillful midfielder has cemented his place in the star-studded Manchester United team this season. Comfortable playing wide on the left or in the centre of midfield, Fortune has not worn the Bafana shirt since the World Cup in Korea and Japan in 2002.

There hadn't been a lot communication between Quinton and the association until he was called up for the Cup of Nations and Man United wrote back to say they would like to utilize him and that he should be excused for that tournament and that in future they will make sure that he is available, said Mokoena.

This conciliatory attitude by Safa should be well received by the Bafana faithful and more importantly for the candidates applying for the vacant Bafana coaching  hot-seat.

Bartlett holds the South African record of 26 goals in 64 international matches.



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