Sunday, 26 June 2016

REMEMBER WHAT NAPOLEON SAID ABOUT THE ROAD TO RUSSIA: From COSAFA to Rio Olympics... to the World Cup qualifiers

PENALTY KING: Gift Motupa scored twice from the spot
ARISE Sir Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba. You lifted the COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia with a young, untested Bafana Bafana squad. Nobody can EVER take that great night away from you.

But remember the words of another famous man who reached Russia with a squad of 600,000. Napoleon Bonaparte, who got to Moscow but paid the price, said: “To be defeated is pardonable. To be surprised? NEVER!”

Though it to
ok penalties to defeat quarter-finalists Lesotho, ranked 155 in the world, the emphatic 5-1 semi-final win over Swaziland, ranked 117, was emphatic. And the gritty 3-2 win in the final at the Sam Nujoma Stadium was more entertaining than anything Euro 2016 could manage on Saturday.

We can safely ignore the bleating of Botswana’s coach Peter Butler, who said after his side had conceded two penalties and a goal that looked off-side: "This tournament will never gain any credibility when we have disgusting, atrocious, shameful refereeing.”

Butler conveniently forgot to mention the gift Reyaad Pieterse handed his side for their second goal, allowing an innocuous cross to slip through his gloves. And the first penalty was a clear-cut foul.

Though Butler, who played 70 games for West Ham in the early 90s, claimed Botswana “were the better side” and the refereeing was unquestionably poor, Bafana deserved their first taste of silverware since they last won the COSAFA Cup in 2008.

Mashaba was far calmer afterwards as his young squad danced with joy in Windhoek: “Well done to Botswana, they played very well, but we expected this.

“Since COSAFA started for us, we always came from behind and that shows the character is there.”

After a brief questioning of how COSAFA can actually improve football in South Africa, Mashaba should now shift his attention to the World Cup qualifiers, instead it appears he will now focus on the Rio Olympics with these youngsters, who fly straight out for a friendly in Japan with a week off before travelling to Brazil.

Rio will give South Africa some idea of where we REALLY stand in world football after a torrid two years under Mashaba’s leadership. Whether he will recall some of the heroes of Senegal or stick with the COSAFA squad remains unclear. Obviously Keagan Dolly will be roped in, but names like Norodien, Farmer and Lakay have quietly faded.

On their return, the U23s may or may not form the spine of the new Bafana side who face a tough task qualifying from Group D of the African World Cup qualifiers.

Worryingly, many in the South Africa media described Friday’s draw in Cairo as “easy”, but it’s not. In terms of world rankings alone, we are stuck in the 3rd toughest group of five. And only the group winners go to Russia.

Mashaba must accept vast improvement is needed. Having failed to qualify from Group M for AFCON 2017 in Gabon, Group D presents more serious problems.

The AFCON group WAS easy. Look at the world rankings. Cameroon 58, Mauritania 121 and Gambia 165. Compare that to the World Cup group: Senegal 41, Cape Verde 49 and Burkina Faso 73.

And we couldn't even manage a best runners-up spot for Gabon next year.

It appears Mashaba has coasted through his AFCON qualifying failure with a little help from the COSAFA success. We go in to the World Cup with a coach many are questioning and SAFA, with their President involved in the PE Mayoral race and Technical Director analysing Euro 2016 on TV, apparently unconcerned by what has gone before.

Mashaba himself says: "We could not have asked for a kinder draw. I'm happy but that does not mean it is going to be easy.

"There is no second best at this stage, only top teams in the group will be at the World Cup. We should be among them.”

But clearly he hasn’t noticed how many top level stars now play for Senegal, or how Cape Verde have gone to great lengths to attract players to strengthen their national squad. And Burkina Faso, the only side ranked lower than South Africa’s 68, are no pushovers either.

It’s not a matter of “we should make it”, Bafana Bafana under Mashaba remain minnows in the continental pool. If he gets our boys to Russia, Mashaba will confound the experts, tear up the form book. If only he realised that. Just look what happened to Napoleon after Moscow.


Below are the 21 names who have been in talks with Bobby Motaung since he discarded 20 players on the club web-site on May 31.

I believe the first 11 are CONFIRMED for 11am tomorrow when Football Manager Motaung announces his names, with the two youngsters taking the count to 13.

TWO of the additional players requiring fees may be unveiled, Anthony Laffor is close to moving from Mamelodi Sundowns. Apparently Motaung is hoping the stated fees for the remaining players will fall closer to the start of the season. 

The big overseas names like Steven Pienaar, released by Everton, and Tokelo Rantie, unwanted at Bournemouth last season, are not among them, though May Mahlangu and Anele Ncongca are "nearly affordable".

Bobby is keen on naming 20 players - equal to the number of unwanted - but will ultimately hand over a far more economical squad to Steve Komphela for the new season.

1 Keagan Buchanan, 25, Bloemfontein Celtic (free) Midfield
2 Sbu Khumalo, 26, SuperSport United (swap with Keagan Ritchie) Defender
3 Ramahlwe Mphahlele, 26, Mamelodi Sundowns (free, signed pre-contract) Defender
4 Mitchell Katsairo, 26, Chicken Inn (R3m deal) Striker
5 Edmore Chirambadare, 24, Chicken Inn (R750,000 deal) Striker
6 Lebohang Mokoena, 29, Mamelodi Sundowns (free, released) Striker/wing
7 Kudakwashe Mahachi, 22, Golden Arrows/Mamelodi Sundowns (free) Midfielder
8 Evans Rusike, 25, Maritzburg United (possible fee) Striker
9 Joseph Molangoane, 28, Chippa United (free) Midfielder
10 Ennocent Mkhabula, 27, SuperSport United (released, free) Midfielder
11 Siphelele Ntshangase, 23, Black Leopards (disputed) Mid/striker

1 Emmanuel Letlotlo, 18, Asidlali (new contract, promoted) Striker
2 Aviwe Nyamende, 23, Shumba Academy (new contract) Defender

1 Thamsanqa Sangweni, 27, Golden Arrows (R4m) Midfielder
2 Sibusiso Vilakazi, 26, Bidvest Wits (R12m) Midfielder
3 Justice Chabalala, ??, Free State Stars (R5m)
4 Thapelo Morena, 22, Bloem Celtic (R6m)
5 Prince Nxumalo, Ajax Cape Town (R4m) Striker
6 Anthony Laffor, Mamelodi Sundowns (R4m) Striker
7 Charlton Mashumba, Jomo Cosmos (R3m) Striker
8 Bantu Mzwakali, 22, Ajax Cape Town (R6m) Midfielder


  1. Neal it real bothers me that KC has only acquired one player who is under the age of 23. It simple means that our development is close to useless. Yes, on the other hand I understand the team is not an NGO, it needs almost finished material to be able to use It to generate profit.
    But they could have got a balance between young stars and experience.

    Then again its just saying, what do I know?!

    S. File

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