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FIRST ON EWN: Mbalula rubbishes latest Proteas political interference claims

Fikile Mbalula has called on Mike Horn to come forward with tangible evidence regarding his claims.

FILE: Minister of Sports, Fikile Mbalula, speaking during a ceremony ahead of Proteas's send-off to the Cricket World Cup. Picture:  RSA Min of Sport @MbalulaFikile.

JOHANNESBURG - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has responded to claims made by the Proteas's High Performance coach Mike Horn, calling his allegations of political interference as hogwash.

This morning EWN Sport revealed Horn's claims that the national team's selectors were instructed to make an eleventh hour change to the line-up for the first semi-final in order to fulfil a 'quota', bringing Vernon Philander in for Kyle Abbott.

Philander had recently recovered from a minor injury, while Abbott had performed well in the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka.

Mbalula says there is no basis to Horn's claim and he needs to come forward with tangible evidence to support his allegations.

"What Mike Horn is doing is just being mischievous and I don't know how such people find their way into the leadership ranks. He must substantiate it to say that indeed there was political interference, a call was made by a so and so."

The minister adds that what Horn is claiming is immaterial, saying if changes had to be made, the decision was the coach's to make and not to be influenced by politicians.

"In any squad ahead of any game, changes have to be made by the selectors for one reason or the other. The question here is was that change politically aggravated and I'm saying there was no such a thing from my side."

Mbalula says Horn must be more specific with his claims and ask the relevant people in charge of the team.

"Don't be ambiguous, be unambiguous and state it like it is that Mbalula made this call and I'm saying there is no such; I don't select squads. Just go ask AB de Villiers, ask coach Russell Domingo whether I made that call."