Tuesday, 15 September 2015

LADIES FIRST: How Vera Pauw and Banyana have out-classed Shaky's Bafana. Calls for her head are simply IGNORANT

GOING DUTCH: Banyana boss Vera Pauw
GOT in to the most ridiculous debate on Twitter this morning. I was amazed to find South African football tweeps calling for the head of Vera Pauw, head coach of Banyana Banyana, our women’s team.

Yes, there they were (I won’t pick out the ignorant by using their twitter handles), insisting Banyana - who can’t even keep their twitter account up to date (@banyana_banyana was last updated 45 days ago) - were on the slippery slope under their Dutch leader and that she must be sacked.

This came barely 24 hours after Banyana had been forced out of the All African Games in Brazzaville by Ghana - on the toss of a coin. The two sides had finished equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, and Ghana won the lottery, going on to beat Senegal in the semi-finals today.

So Ms Pauw and her squad were, in theory, denied a gold or silver medal in the Congo BY A COIN TOSS.

Take note: Her campaign ended unbeaten. Banyana drew both their group games against Cameroon and Ghana after Egypt withdrew. But remember this: the men failed to even reach the Congo, going out to Sudan 2-1 in the play-off while our women crushed Botswana 6-0 to book their flights.

And here were these blokes on twitter telling me she should be sacked. Sure, Portia Modise, our greatest female striker, retired, and Banyana failed by ONE SPOT to reach the women’s World Cup in Canada when they finished fourth rather than third in AFCON.

We won’t mention that heart-breaking AFCON defeat in Namibia against Cote D’Ivoire, whose captain failed to produce proof of her gender amid a huge furore. The Ivorians went on to lose their opening World Cup clash 10-0 against Germany.

This was what Pauw said afterwards: “My players are all sensational and, had they had a chance at the World Cup, almost all of them would be snapped up by overseas clubs.

“That’s the really hard part about missing out on Canada, the fact that lives could have been changed had we got there.”

But let’s compare this to our old friend Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, the man who runs the men’s team. The man who these strange tweeps continue to defend despite all evidence to the future.

While our women reached the semi-finals, Shaky finished with ONE point in an Equatorial Guinea campaign widely lampooned by those who actually know football.

Then he lost twice at COSAFA against Botswana and Malawi on penalty shoot-outs before the current AFCON 2017 qualifying debacle featuring a home draw against Gambia - the smallest nation on mainland Africa - and an away defeat against modest Mauritania.

Not only that, Shaky was feted for his performance in Equatorial Guinea. He was roundly congratulated for being the worst side in the tournament, equal with Burkina Faso. Shocking.

This was the man who told us we would use the “spirit of 96” to conquer Africa, though he treats the actual heroes who played in that campaign with disdain.

Shaky actually went a Springbok leap further than our endless Rugby World Cup speeches from Fikile Mbalula and ASSURED US we’d conquer Africa.

But then, at various times, he’s said we should be topping the FIFA rankings (we’re 72 and falling under his guidance, Banyana are 59th and rising), were aiming to win the World Cup (Russia 2018 or Vision 2022, we’re still not sure) and, infamously, he insisted any critique of his old-fashioned, agent-driven regime was due to the fact he is black.

Amid all this nonsense, Vera Pauw has quietly moved forward with our women, denied World Cup qualification and All Africa Games medals by a hairs’ breadth. She never said we’d conquer anybody, just did her best to produce results without rotating goalkeepers and captains.

In case Shaky fans need it repeating, Bafana (using an U23 squad) failed to qualify for the All Africa Games. And with home and away games against Cameroon to come in Group M, where Shaky lies rock-bottom, our chances of qualifying for AFCON 2017 are just about gone.

After a friendly trip to central America, Shaky has to rouse his trips for FOUR successive games against dangerous Angola, the first two for CHAN qualification, the second two to reach the World Cup qualification group stages.

Obviously, we wish Mashaba well in his efforts. But given the way he’s been insulting journalists and getting his son Jabu to ask questions in press conferences, he doesn’t appear to have much confidence in his own ability.

Vera Pauw is a different matter. To call her credentials in to question is simply IGNORANT. But did the great Robert Marawa or BBK step forward to defend her having been copied on the tweets? Did they heck.

Today the South Africa Football Association’s Dennis Mumble insisted Mashaba was safe “for two years” and talked of “Vision 2022” in the absence of his president Danny Jordaan, now the mayor of war-torn Port Elizabeth.

I hope both Jordaan and Mumble read this. I’d give Vera Pauw more time, unless she wheels out a Dutch daughter to ask questions in a press conference.

But I’m not sure about Mashaba. And, at last, the rest of the South African football media are starting to realise that truth.


  1. Neal, you write well and most of the points are well presented. But you do need to take a bit more care with some of your facts.You write about Equatorial Guinea in connection with the Women's AFCON and how they had all Brazilian an Nigerian players. They were not at the AFCON, they failed to qualify, so not sure why you brought them up.

  2. Neal is Shakes Mashaba the cause of all this mayhem or is it the South African Football Association?