Saturday, 8 October 2016

SHAKY'S DROOPY DRAWS: The Bafana Bafana verdict... and a word for Dean Furman

FURMIDABLE: Dean Furman scored Bafana's goal
"It was a silly goal to give away. But there is no need to cry over spilt milk. Overall, I think we had things under control after surviving an early onslaught early in the first half. But having grown in confidence, I think we could have scored a famous away win" Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba

IT takes a special talent to let three vital World Cup points slip when you’re 1-0 up in Burkina Faso after the home team have missed two penalties. But South Africa’s Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba has that ability. Never doubt it.

Remember AFCON 2015 when Bafana Bafana were ahead in all three games but came away with one point? Yup, Mashaba’s got a knack for this sort of thing.

On Saturday in Ouagadougou, Shaky - who should never have survived after his awful AFCON 2017 qualifying failure - and our comparatively blessed Bafana Bafana were struggling. No plan, nothing wide, Keagan Dolly lost in a bizarre tactical quagmire and Eleazar Rodgers desperately trying to make his presence felt on his own up front.

It was not a great night for South Africa. An hour before kick-off the nation’s once-feared rugby Springboks had lost 57-15 to New Zealand’s All Blacks, conceding nine tries and scoring none.

We hoped for better from Mashaba’s much-maligned Bafana Bafana and when the ageless custodian Itumeleng Khune saved an unwarranted early penalty from Jonathan Pitroipa, hope sprung eternal.

SHAKY: Mashaba after the draw in Ougoudougou
But in truth, Burkina Faso, with a dodgy referee, are a tough nut to crack at home. With Senegal and the Capo Verde Islanders to come, anything less than a draw would have been disastrous with only the five CAF group WINNERS qualifying for Russia’s 2018 World Cup.

Rodgers, in for the curiously absent Tokelo Rantie, had a couple of chances. So did Mamelodi Sundowns African Champions League finalist Hlompho Kekana. At the back, with Rivaldo Coetzee injured, Tower Mathoho - after the death of his brother - looked out of sorts, his handball offering the Burkinabians hope from the spot.

By half-time, the former Chelsea, Rangers, Oldham Athletic and Doncaster Rovers midfielder Dean Furman - who left for Britain from Cape Town as a nursery school kid - was subjected to widespread nastiness from South Africans on social media. The only pale outfielder picked by Mashaba was being castigated for failing to pull his weight in a midfield that was visibly struggling.

At half-time, I felt the need to point out Furman was doing the job in the midfield, unlike some in the Bafana team - and that he has been our most consistent performer over the past four years, despite being dropped from the squad regularly since Gordon Igesund’s departure for no apparent reason.

And when the SuperSport United midfielder popped up to score what should have been the winner it was a moment which lifted our Rainbow Nation - Furman and I often exchange messages when times are hard. He has never been less than wholehearted in his approach, on and off the field.

It should have, could have, been the victorious icing on a very poorly constructed cake.

But with a win looming Oupa Manyisa, the Orlando Pirates captain who has done little for the Buccaneers since returning from injury. missed an easy chance to make it 2-0 and then gave away ANOTHER penalty after coming on for Dolly.

The second penalty was clear-cut, Mathoho’s first half handball had been marginal. Manyisa's tackle in the box was that of a rank amateur given the situation. But the experienced Alain Traore sent his spot kick so far over the bar you might have glimpsed it over Gauteng had the first rains of summer not crept over the horizon.

But still, somehow, in those final seconds, there was time for Bouna Diawara to produce an injury-time equaliser, dashing South Africa’s hopes of opening their World Cup campaign with a win for the first time since Stuart Baxter was in charge over a decade ago.

With SAFA president Danny Jordaan threatening Mashaba’s job security after the 1-1 draw against Mauritania last month, the word is that Shaky will go if he doesn’t get four points in his opening two World Cup qualifiers.

That means he has to beat a substantial Senegal side at home on November 7. The intervening clash against Ghana this week is meaningless, though Shaky loves a friendly win.

Okay, we’re told locusts, bees, visa problems and Rantie’s ungrateful no-show didn’t help Bafana this week. 

But given Mashaba’s inability to hold on to a lead, his lack of tactical acumen, bizarre selection process and clueless substitutions, surely Jordaan, who failed to beat a man called Athol in the NMB mayoral race, must act. The nation deserves better.



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