|TIME TO GO: Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba|
Our PSL ground to a halt after one game, with the opening round suffering record low attendances. For the first time in living memory we don't have a player in the top 5 leagues in Europe. Our national football team continues to hit new lows.
Thank God for Mamelodi Sundowns, I say. And yes, they are coached by the coach SAFA threw out.
Like a broken record, Pitso Mosimane's successor Ephraim Mashaba drones on. And on. A 1-1 home draw against a 10-man nation of slave owners. But listen carefully. Mashaba’s saying nothing. He’s going nowhere.
Third in Group M. Out of AFCON 2017 months ago, though neither coach nor president appeared to notice. One point from two games against Mauritania, ranked 104 in the world.
No admission of guilt from Shakes. No apology to the nation. Just a bizarre utterance concerning Zimbabwe’s Kharma Billiat, when Dino Ndlovu and Kermit Erasmus, resurrecting their striking careers on foreign fields, are ignored again and again by our national head coach.
As a lesson in motivation, Mashaba’s views on his strike force are best ignored. But here it is: "All the top strikers in the league are foreign. If I can have a player like Khama Billiat, then maybe we’d score more.”
But then Mashaba’s post-match comments cannot be expected to measure up to somebody like, say, Kaizer Chiefs coach-cum-poet Steve Komphela.
On June 5 this year, Mashaba said: "Can this be one of the best Bafana Bafana teams ever? Something special is brewing." Arrogant. Delusional. Out of touch. His current squad rarely rises above the awful.
He's even talked about winning the World Cup, in his mind, his team "completely dominates" every team Bafana plays against, he eagerly suggests the non-playing stars in his line-up will come good, it’s been this way since the 2-2 draw with Nigeria in 2014.
Up to that point, we were happy to put up with his bizarre lack of tactics, his weird decisions, that inexplicable head-rubbing goal celebration.
But by the time he’d selected his AFCON 2015 team, throwing out Thulani Serero in a deceitful rage, we were starting to suspect Mashaba wasn’t all he seemed. We finally began to understand why he hadn’t been snatched up to manage a club or left South Africa’s youth set-up apart from a brief failure with Swaziland.
There’s more: after the Mauritania debacle, the decision to let his old favourite Thamsanqa Gabuza take the penalty, the fact we didn’t try to exploit the visitors’ red card, the total lack of imagination.
Here’s more: “The way the boys are playing, I don’t doubt we’ll qualify for the World Cup,” he boasts, just before our qualifying group rivals Senegal became the ONLY side to qualify for Gabon next year with a perfect record.
And then: "We are really looking forward to qualifying with the team we are setting up, but we have one problem; how are we going to sort out the scoring problem?”
But that’s where this all started. We go in to the Mandela challenge against Egypt full of hope. South Africa have been winning friendlies and losing competitive games for decades. Remember the 2010 World Cup warm-ups? Unbeaten for months. The dodgy 3-0 win over Mali in Gabon just before AFCON 2015?
Best not examine those games too closely. They have given Mashaba an apparently impressive overall record 37 games, with 17 wins, 16 draws and just four defeats.
But look closer. Go back to that last AFCON 2015 qualifier in Nigeria, drawn 2-2 after two superb Tokelo Rantie goals. Since then, Bafana have played 10 Afcon games. Just one win, 7 draws, two defeats. You get a clearer picture. The real picture.
Mashaba is tactically bankrupt. He has no idea how to change a game with substitutes. Mr Rotation doesn’t even know who his captain, goalkeeper or penalty taker might be. He chooses players, as so many Bafana coaches before him, by listening to the loudest agent.
And for those, like me, who thought a technical director might help control a man who gets his son to ask questions in press conferences, Neil Tovey has been the biggest disappointment of all. Silent on all fronts, apart from SuperSport TV where he is paid for his views while pulling a big salary from SAFA. Unbelievable.
I have little doubt Shaky, who apparently still subscribes to Danny Jordaan’s Vision 2022 philosophy, will beat Egypt on Tuesday with five or six players close to 30.
And the SAFA President, just back from losing Nelson Mandela Bay to the DA, will no doubt tell us how wonderful everything is. It’s isn’t. We finished THIRD in AFCON Group M. Only ONE side qualifies for Russian 2018. Senegal are coming.