Saturday, 10 September 2016

EXPOSING THE SHAMBLES AT SAFA: was AFCON 2017 qualification mandatory for Shaky? Will NOTHING be done before the World Cup qualifiers?

WHAT A TWIT! On Sept 6, Chimhavi says Mashaba's
only mandate is Russia 2018, Afcon 2017 failure is
clearly of no consequence to SAFA
THE rumblings at SAFA House have been bothering the nation since it our national football body built its R150m headquarters with FIFA Legacy Fund money before the 2010 World Cup had even kicked off.

It’s an uncomfortable place, lying in the shadow of Soccer City, the fading edifice now called the FNB Stadium, where crowds are becoming more and more difficult to draw as South African football tumbles down the slippery slope of maladministration.

Dominic Chimhavi, SAFA’s Head of Communications, neatly sums up the mess in a organisation where the elected president Danny Jordaan turned his back on football to lose the mayoral election in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Jordaan and I have been through the mill. I backed him to the hilt in the SAFA presidential elections, we met for lunch a couple of times at Nelson Mandela Square, he showed me how much of the FIFA World Cup legacy fund remained (I still have the documents, I’ve displayed them on television, still not seen significant grass roots spending) and when I stood up against national coach, Gordon Igesund for being influenced by agents, Danny came calling.

As the only journalist to actually give evidence to the Arendse Inquiry, I expressed concern when Ephraim Mashaba, know to be a client of super-agent Tim Sukazi, was given the biggest job in South African football in July 2014 after Igesund’s contract was not renewed.

But, as Jordaan explained, Shaky was the cheap option, Carlos Queiroz only heard the news that he was too expensive throught the media, having agreed to return to South Africa during Igesund’s CHAN 2013 failure on home soil.

Jordaan promised Mashaba would be tutored in modern tactics and methods by FIFA’s technical guru Gerard Houllier, he said a closer eye would be kept on agent influence, Dr Irvin Khoza came out and said Shaky was the first Bafana coach NOT to listen to agents.

But the predictable soon happened. After a successful 2015 Afcon qualifying campaign, Mashaba’s selection for the tournament in Equatorial Guinea was laughable. Strange names cropped up, Thulani Serero was thrown out. He rotated goalkeepers and captains, had no idea how to maintain a lead, and came home after a five-day disappearance with just one point.

By then SAFA was scrabbling for cover.  Jordaan told me Mashaba had NO mandate when he took the job, though Igesund was told finish top four in Afcon 2013 and qualify for Brazil 2016.

But as we drew with minnows Gambia at home and lost to Mauritania 3-1 on an artificial surface we weren’t prepared for, it became clear Mashaba had no idea how to run a national football team in the modern game. In 10 AFCON games since the away draw against Nigeria in late 2014, Bafana have won 1, drawn 6 and lost 3.

After the final draw against Mauritania at home this month, Bafana Bafana found themselves with 7 points, everyone knew they were OUT weeks before, yet SAFA hung on, saying they would not act until after the final game.

Curiously, after that match, the returning Jordaan (who said as mayor football was “just a hobby” and he “had never been paid a penny” in his SAFA role) said: “This must be the end of the journey, not the beginning, because this cannot lead us into the 2018 campaign, where we will play the giants of the African continent."

That led to some serious speculation. It look like the Mandela Challenge would be Mashaba's last game in charge, there were reports of a big-name foreign coach being appointed, from sources within shadowy SAFA House.

But the #shakyout campaign had about as much hope as #feesmustfall. The friendly 1-0 win over Egypt followed and there was Chimhavi telling me SAFA net would NOT  be discussing Mashaba’s future at the meeting over the weekend and that “the coach has to see through his mandate of qualifying for Russia 2018”. Fortunately I have a picture of this stunning tweet, which was retweeted by @safa_net.

So that, it appears, is that, for the #shakyout campaign. But people keep asking about Mashaba’s demise, so I tweeted THIS on Saturday:

Yes, as I've said repeatedly, @dchimhavi says #shaky's mandate was to qualify for WC2018, not @AFCON2017 @WASINATOR_95 @SAFA_net

Unbelievably, Chimhavi then tweeted: “When did I say that? Don’t put words into my mouth Mr Collins; teaching young journos bad traits”

DROWNING IN DENIAL Chimhavi digs deeper
So what’s a man to do? Look, I like Dominic, we travelled together with the AmaJimbos and I did a lot of work with the U17s thanks to him, and enjoyed his company.

But subsequent promises of travelling with Bafana to see Shakes in action first hand came to nothing on numerous occasions.

How can this man accuse me of misleading people when his tweet is clear as a bell: MASHABA’S MANDATE WAS RUSSIA 2018. Chimhavi said it. Afcon 2017 failure, a deep and significant blow which saw us come THIRD in the group, was rendered meaningless.

Now we go in to a World Cup qualifying campaign against might Group D rivals Senegal, Cape Verde and Burkina Faso, a far more daunting prospect than Cameroon, Mauritania and Gambia in AFCON 2017 Group M.

And Chimhavi tells us Mashaba’s failure will not matter. Has the report on South Africa’s disastrous campaign been delivered? Why did Shaky keep picking players not good enough for their clubs? Why did he treat Kamohelo Mokotjo so badly he retired from Bafana? Is there a correlation between certain agents and selection? Why is Shaky still involved in KeYona after being clearly told it wasn’t acceptable by SAFA?

But none of these questions matter. According to SAFA’s “head of communications” Mashaba’s mandate was World Cup 2018. In other words, he hasn’t even started yet.


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