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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Deposed Mokoena misses Nations Cup

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Blackburn Rovers defender Aaron Mokoena pulled out on Thursday of South Africa's squad for the African Nations Cup finals after being voted out as captain.

In a statement to reporters, Mokoena said he would not play under coach Ted Dumitru, who has installed midfielder Sibusiso Zuma in his place after a vote by players on Tuesday at a training camp in Johannesburg.

Mokoena, who flew in to Johannesburg on Wednesday and was told of the vote when he arrived for practice, said he had not been warned or given a chance to participate in the decision.

'I would have assumed that if he had doubts about my leadership ability he would have taken the opportunity to tell me personally first,' Mokoena said.

Earlier this week Dumitru threatened to omit Mokoena from the 23-man squad because he had not arrived for the pre-tournament preparations.

'I don't know what is happening with Mokoena or when he is joining the team,' Dumitru told The Star newspaper, saying it was on that basis he had decided to organise the players' vote.

Mokoena countered on Thursday, saying he had told officials last month that he would arrive only after Blackburn's match with Portsmouth on Monday and that his ticket had been booked and paid for by the South African Football Association.

'How he can say he did not know where I was is strange,' the player said.

He added: 'The basis of trust between me and the coach has been irreparably damaged and I will not be available for selection as long as he is in charge.'

Mokoena, 25, has won 55 caps for South Africa, 14 of them as captain. The Nations Cup runs from Jan. 20 to Feb. 10.