Sunday, 29 November 2015

The pain of a two-game weak-end: Pirates sunk, AmaGlugGlug all at sea

SINK OR SWIM: AmaGlugGlug in Dakar on Sunday
ANOTHER bad week for South African football. Another series of questions which will remain unanswered. Sheez. It's a Tale of Two Pities this week.

As South Africa’s U23s were crushed 3-1 by hosts Senegal in the 8-nation CAF Olympic qualifiers and Orlando Pirates were beaten 1-0 in Tunisia by Etoile du Sahel, it’s hard to find crumbs of comfort.

Just two weeks ago Danny Jordaan, the SAFA President who spends most of his time trying to sort out Port Elizabeth’s political problems, was remarkably upbeat.

He told us: “South African football is on the up. Banana Bafana beat Angola in the World Cup, our Under 23s could qualify for Rio 2016 and Orlando Pirates could win the CAF Confederations Cup.”

But a fortnight is a long time in football.

As we hold our heads in our hands we have to consider FACTS. At AFCON 2015, we finished BOTTOM of our group. We are currently BOTTOM of our group in qualifying for AFCON 2017. Our U17 AmaJimbos finished BOTTOM of their group in the World Cup in Chile. And now our U23s are BOTTOM of their group in Senegal.

Of course, for Owen da Gama’s youngsters, once known as AmaGlugGlug, the bottle is still half full. They have Zambia and Tunisia to come in Group A. Anything could happen. Just thank God they’re not in Group B with Algeria, Egypt, Mali and Nigeria.

No independent journalists travelled to Senegal but I have an associate who jetted up on Friday. His reaction to the Senegal defeat was pretty harsh. The main problem: Rivaldo Coetzee’s sudden appearance in the U23 ranks.

The Ajax Cape Town youngster was not involved in any of the build-up, but was drafted straight in to the side despite arriving a day late because he lost his passport. His presence appeared to disrupt a settled defence and encourage those who feel agent Tim Sukazi’s men are always given preference in South African football affairs.

Coach Owen da Gama, apparently appointed by Shakes Mashaba without SAFA’s technical team discussing the role, said: “Some players did not pitch up which had a massive influence on the game and impacted on the rest of the team.”

Hardly encouraging for the former Platinum Stars coach, a known Sukazi man. Personally, I’d like to see a top young PSL coach given the U23 job. Da Gama seemed to just assume the mantle, like inexperienced Thabo Senong with the U20s.

But Owen can still bounce back in Senegal: “We take the loss as a team, just like we have taken wins as a team. What we don’t need now is the blame game or finger pointing. It just wasn’t our day.”

It wasn’t Tinkler’s day on Sunday either. Defeat means Pirates take the R6m runners-up cheque from CAF but that’s the only good news.

Currently 11th in the PSL, Tinkler will be under huge pressure when Pirates resume their league campaign against Mamelodi Sundowns on December 20.

That’s a long way off, time enough for Dr Irvin Khoza to consider his coach’s position. And with Pitso Mosimane’s Masandawana on a strong run, hardly the game Tinkler and his Buccaneers would have chosen to begin their domestic resurrection.

The truth is Jordaan’s optimism is misplaced. South African football is struggling. The crunch, fortunately, is a few months away. In late March 2016, Shakes Mashaba’s Bafana have to play Cameroon home and away.

The opening 0-0 home draw against tiny Gambia and a shocking 3-1 defeat in Mauritania see South Africa bottom of group M in qualifying for Gabon next year. They already trail Cameroon by five points and only the top side goes through, along with the best runner-up from 13 groups.

Anything less than two wins over the Indomitable Lions will leave Mashaba in serious jeopardy. That might be the time for Jordaan and his clandestine technical committee to ring the changes before the CAF World Cup group draw in June. 

Games don’t start until October, so the new coach - hopefully with new assistants - will have nearly seven months to settle in. Or we can stick with what we’ve got. Let’s see how we deal with those lions. Now... relax for four months.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

SUPER SATURDAY: own goals, injury time, four goal sprees and angry Tunisians

REFFING HELL! Sahel players at work
on Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe
FOOTBALL. It’s a silly old game. Saturday was an absolute extravaganza of eccentricity. From those mysterious seven minutes of injury time at the Harry Gwala to the demolition of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.

It doesn’t end there of course. First we saw Manchester United go top of the Premier League thanks to a last-minute own goal scored by Watford’s scorer, then we saw Arsenal fail to go top after a Mikel Arteta own goal and a slapstick Santi Cazorla penalty miss straight out of the Three Stooges.

Let’s stick to the British Premier League for a moment for the sake of the ridiculous: Leicester City, more of a rugby town for decades, are top because Liverpool were, for the first time under Jurgen Klopp, too good. Manchester City inexplicably folded 4-1 against the mid-table Merseysiders.

And how about the irony of the Reds’ former Champions League winner Rafa Benitez being in charge of Real on a night of absolute El Clasico misery? Barca’s 4-0 win, with goals from Luis Suarez (two), Neymar and Andres Iniesta was achieved with the great Lionel Messi, back from injury, largely on the bench. And even with his cushion, he was better than his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Back home, it was almost impossible to keep up. Gavin Hunt’s PSL leaders Bidvest Wits were all at sea against Serame Letsoake’s Golden Arrows. Yes, they utterly outplayed the visitors but couldn’t get past Namibian goalkeeper Maximilian Mbaeva.

At half-time I exchanged rare messages with PSL communication director Luxolo September. We agreed it was a superb first half with Arrows 1-0 up.

But in what turned out to be perhaps the game of the season so far, Bidvest Wits equalised through 18-year-old Phakamani Mhlambi only to go behind again.

And then came real drama. Mbaeva was sent off, rightly, for a handball outside the box. With Ricardo Goss still warming his gloves, Daine Klate smacked his free-kick, not for the first time, straight in to the corner for 2-2.

And within minutes Klate, 30, let go by Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United in recent seasons, conjured the winner to go top of the PSL scoring charts and make clear his intention to add a SIXTH championship medal to the record FIVE he had already garnered at Supersport and Pirates.

Hunt was hilarious afterwards. Six points clear at the top of the PSL, he moaned: “This is what always happens after an international break. The players are away, eating too much and lazing around, they come back here and they’re sluggish.”

Bloody hell, Gavin, SLUGGISH? It was magnificent.

It was Kaizer Chiefs who appeared to have a real problem with sluggishness, falling behind to rock-bottom Maritzburg United and never really looking like recovering. While Steve Komphela looked increasingly crest-fallen, Clive Barker, at 72, appeared to have out-thought and out-fought the mighty AmaKhosi in front of a sell-out crowd at the Harry Gwala.

But then up goes the injury-time board: SEVEN MINUTES. Gasps all round. And what happens with the final touch of the game? Chiefs equalise. Injustice. Utterly unfair. The Dog’s tail should have been wagging.

But before we could even react to that salvage operation, with El Clasico and Liverpool rampaging on nearby channels, Orlando Pirates were up and ready to play the first leg of their CAF Confederations Cup final first leg in front of a nearly full Orlando Stadium.

ES Sahel, from the Tunisia holiday resort of Sousse where 38 tourists were shot in June, have won just about everything there is to win in Africa. But they looked out of sorts in the final footballing saga on Saturday night.

Tamsanqa Gabuza produced a remarkable left-footed first half finish to give Eric Tinkler’s men the advantage and really, the visitors - who arrived by charter flight on Wednesday and barely spoke to a soul - were anything but classy. Their treatment of the officials - at one point they shoved a man-handled the Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe - was matched only by their failure to pick up the mood of the evening.

On both Jacaranda FM and SAFM I predicted a two-goal margin for Pirates. After all, Etoile du Sahel had failed to beat anybody away from home in the entire tournament apart from Esperance, about 130km down the road. A late equaliser ruined the night. Jemal was the fox in the box. It was a night of poor replays, so I can't say if it was off-side. The Pirates players certainly called for it.

Ultimately, it ended 1-1. Job undone by a late away goal. The second leg will be a struggle next week, but they have a fighting chance, these Buccaneers.

Tinkler said: "It was exactly what we expected. A good team defensively, but we could have come in at half-time 2-0 up. It was a gutsy performance. We let ourselves down in the dying minutes.

"I thought their behaviour was shocking. Should have had some red cards. And that includes the guys on their bench."

Can we predict the outcome in Sousse? Hardly. Who would have predicted Barcelona and Liverpool scoring four away from home? Who would have foreseen the own goals at Manchester United and Arsenal?

Best just let it unfold. It's a funny old game.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

GOING TO POT: how the CAF World Cup qualifiers should pan out. And why the groups are so tough this time

Headed for 2018: Russian World Cup is heading our way

FROM dramatic comebacks to routine hammerings, the last round of CAF World Cup qualifiers eventually threw up the usual suspects for the group stages in the battle to qualify for Russia 2018.

Giant-threatening Botswana and Swaziland came close, but eventually Mali and Nigeria asserted their second leg dominance. Algeria destroyed Tanzania 7-0 and South Africa... well they did what was needed against Angola. Job done. Home and away. 

If Angola, ranked 99, had made it, they would have been second only to Libya as the lowest ranked side through to the group stages.

Though widely maligned, the FIFA rankings have got it nearly spot on with 18 of the best ranked nations making it - Equatorial Guinea (15) and Liberia (20) were the exceptions.

Only Burkina Faso and Libya managed to reach next year's draw (June 24, 2016) for those final five groups of four from outside the continent's top 20 ranked nations.

Based on current FIFA rankings, this is how the seeded pots would look, though things may change before the draw next June. One side from each pot will be drawn in each group, giving us FIVE groups. In 2014 qualifying, CAF opted for FORTY teams in 10 groups with play-off AFTER the group stages.

I've listed the 20 nations with CAF ranking first, FIFA ranking in brackets:

POT 1 (Africa's top five all made it):
1 Cote D'Ivoire (22)
2 Algeria (26)
3 Ghana (30)
4 Cape Verde Islands (32)
5 Senegal (39)
POT 2 (Africa's top ten all made it)
6 Tunisia (41)
7 Cameroon (51)
8 Congo (52)
9 Guinea (53)
10 DRC (55)

POT 3 (Missing: Equatorial Guinea, 69)
11 Egypt (57)
12 Nigeria (59)
13 Mali (63)
14 Uganda (68)
16 Zambia (71)
POT 4 (Effectively, the outsiders)
17 Gabon (73)
18 South Africa (75)
19 Morocco (79)
22 Burkina Faso (93)
33 Libya (113)

So from here, we can work out probable best and worst case scenarios for our beloved Bafana Bafana, who - thanks to the charitable Angolans - have given national head coach Shakes Mashaba his first competitive wins THIS YEAR. Since the draw against Nigeria in the final qualifier for AFCON 2015 where Mashaba reigned unbeaten, this is the problem:

LOST 1-3 to Algeria (AFCON 2015)
DREW 1-1 with Senegal (AFCON 2015)
LOST 1-2 to Ghana (AFCON2015)
LOST to Botswana (penalty shoot-out after 0-0 draw, COSAFA Cup)
LOST to Malawi (penalty shoot-out after 0-0 draw, COSAFA Cup)
DREW 0-0 with Gambia (AFCON 2017 qualifying)
LOST 1-3 to Mauritania (AFCON 2017 qualifying)

With Cameroon home and away to come next March, our AFCON 2017 qualifying hopes look grim. Without six points from those two games, Group M could be a hopeless cause for Shaky. Here's the current table: 


1 Cameroon 2 2 0 0 2 0 2 6

2 Mauritania 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 3

3 Gambia 2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1

4 South Africa 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1

Given this sort of form, none of the options are going to be easy, believe me. In nine competitive games this year (we won't include home-based CHAN, where we were knocked out by Angola last month) Bafana have only managed those two wins against Angola.

The toughest possible group for Bafana Bafana would consist of Afcon champs Ivory Coast (ranked above Algeria), Tunisia and Egypt. Many would argue Algeria, with just two of their squad not born and groomed in France, would be a better option than Cote d'Ivoire

The best possible grouping for Mashaba, but by no means easy, would be: Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. All six group qualifiers will take place between October 2016 and November 2017. We have time to prepare.

There is no easy march to Russia. Napoleon Bonaparte realised that 200 years ago. But for African football, with only five nations qualifying from 53, it's as tough as it ever was.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

PROUD TO BE MR MASHABA'S MONKEY: Why BafanaBafana need more guerrillas, less yes men

MONKEY BUSINESS: BafanaBafana coach Shakes Mashaba
TODAY I am a monkey. A footballing guerrilla. One who sits on the back of our national coach, awaiting eviction. This is my tail.

As South Africa basks in the glory of a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Angola, Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba did the talking for himself this weekend rather than relying on a series of questions from his son, as he did during a run of eight competitive defeats in charge of BafanaBafana.

To recap: There was the epic 2-2 draw in Nigeria, followed by three failures at AFCON 2015, then COSAFA penalty shoot-out defeats on home soil against Botswana and Malawi, followed by 0-0 against Gambia and 1-3 in Mauritania to kick-off AFCON 2017 qualifying. Tough times, by any standards.

There’s almost no point in mentioning CHAN, the competition for home-based players, where we crashed out to Angola last month, despite an away win in the second leg.

Clearly though, nothing is going to change. Selection will be eccentric, team talks will be confusing, flights to and from Bafana games will continue to be chaotic with barely an independent journalist making the trip to tell us what's really going on.

With SAFA president Danny Jordaan ruling Port Elizabeth and Technical Director Neil Tovey limiting his involvement to critical television performances, I decided to change tack.

I spent last week in #shakysupport mode (though I could never quite get it trending on twitter) despite the inexplicable absence of Kermit Erasmus and Keagan Dolly on the trip to Benguela and the inclusion of four injured players.

I stuck to #shakysupport even when Brilliant Khuzwayo refused to replace Itumeleng Khune in the squad (the Sunday Sun suggests he was partying in Umlazi rather than attending to family matters, but that’s another story) and wished Wayne Sandilands well when he was called up as the third goalkeeper.

When Jackson Mabokgwane of Mpumalanga Black Aces was named as captain, again, a public pat on the back. When Andile Jali got sent off after scoring from the penalty spot, there was no need to slam the man. Job done. The Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night should be one long celebration, Angola need a 3-0 win and they’re NOT going to get it.

No need for monkey business. So here’s what Ephraim Mashaba said when Bafana returned (on the same flight, remarkably) from Angola to the Maharani Hotel in Durban on Sunday: “I want those monkeys to sit on my back and I don't want them to jump off, please.

“The weight that they’re putting on me, it keeps me on my toes, because I'm also saying 'I've got to feed them, these monkeys' and how do I feed them? I deliver, that's all. Feed them by delivering.”

And of course, he’s right. No national coach deserves to escape criticism. Early on in his reign, the Sunday Times Sports Editor Dr BBK Shortarse claimed Mashaba was under scrutiny because of his “levels of melanin”. He has since been nominated for journalist of the year.

Mashaba did the same, claiming he is discriminated against because of his skin colour. Utter bunkum of course. Gordon Igesund has low melanin levels but got so tired of this monkey he tried to sue.

Truth is, like Gord and Pitso before him, Shaky DOES need monkeys on his back. His ability as a coach is completely unproven at any level, his tactical acumen is a little old-fashioned. His substitutions are eccentric, his eagerness to rotate captains and goalkeepers is legend. Clearly Tovey’s appointment, months later than Jordaan promised, has had no impact.

But hey, we beat Angola, and we’ll probably beat them again on Tuesday night. But hold on, Mr Mashaba, the monkeys won’t be going anywhere. Next up? The group stages of the 2018 World Cup. And because we have the disadvantage of being a CAF nation, only the winners go through from the five groups of four. At least, unlike 2014, there will be no play-off against a seeded group winner to follow.

The road to Russia 2018 is a long one, a cold one... especially for Africa, where only FIVE out of 54 nations can qualify.

So too is the road to AFCON 2017 in Gabon, where one point from two games leaves Bafana needing to beat Cameroon TWICE to stand any chance of topping the group.

Braver primates will continue to plague Mashaba, even after this fantastic win in Angola. The yes men, and there are plenty of them, will say he’s evolved beyond gorilla warfare.

Me? I’ll just carry on pointing out the rights and wrongs, with a minimum of gibberish. That’s the job. Right on the monkey.

Monday, 9 November 2015

The TRUTH: Ajax Cape Town coach ROGER DE SA on Cecil Lolo's funeral: the grief, the pain, the LIES

ROGER THAT: De Sa's tweet on the day of Cecil Lolo's tragic death
ROGER DE SA left home for Cecil Lolo’s funeral at 6am in the morning. He returned home at midnight on Sunday exhausted and depressed. Now he is angry. Fuming.

Cecil Sonwabile Lolo was the “True Warrior” in De Sa’s Urban Warriors, a man who emerged from nowhere, with nothing, to become a professional footballer. His death at the age of 27 in a car accident two weeks ago left Ajax Cape Town, part of one of the world’s largest footballing franchises, shattered.

This morning, when De Sa took the side for their first training session since last Friday, Lolo’s seat in the dressing room was left empty and covered in flowers. De Sa says: “That’s how the players felt about Cecil. He was popular, he was respected by all.”

Which is why De Sa is eager to end the witch-hunt orchestrated by Robert Marawa and ANC MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Pemmy Majodina after the funeral. De Sa rubbishes claims the players were banned from attending, he points out that Majodina was nearly as late for the funeral as he was and asks WHY DIDN’T ROBERT MARAWA ATTEND?

I’ll leave Roger to tell his story:

“Neal, all this “we didn’t care about Lolo” is pure bullshit. Let me start at the beginning. The day he died. Devastating. We did’t know what to do.

“We sit with the family. Three little kids from two moms who live with his mother. The player has no insurance, nothing whatsoever. No funeral plan. NOTHING. So our chairman Ari Efstathiou says we’ll provide an educational trust for kids, least we can do.

“Then let’s look after the family. His mother and other people he looked after. About eight of them. We have to look after them too. Help them recover from Cecil’s death, they all lived off his money.

“But for the kids (a daughter of six months, two boys of 5 and 8), let’s get a proper education. No company would do that, you know that Neal. We are doing everything we can here.

“Then we retire the number 21. His shirt. We’ll never use it again. Nobody’s ever done that, not even for Senzo.

“We name a stand after him. Did Pirates do that? Then there’s the memorial service in Khayalitsha, his base, his place, where he lived with his family.

“That’s followed (last Friday) by a memorial service for all supporters at our base, Ikamva. And yes, all of our players were involved in both memorials, they said their farewells, they cried, they cared.

“We are always in contact with the family, said we’ll help with funeral arrangements. They wanted to go somewhere remote in Eastern Cape. That wasn’t ideal for us but we had to respect it. We paid coffin, funeral, food, in the region of R50,000.

“We do all that. The one thing I don’t like thinking, and Ari is too scared to say, is everyone is saying the club stopped the players from going. That’s bullshit. I went. Last training session was Saturday morning, next one was today. We’d never stop anyone from going.

“They’re trying to say club stopped people from going. That not true. Some Chippa United players went, they were local. But there was nobody from the PSL, SAFA, no other club. For me to get there, I left at 6am got home after 11pm. How do you expect everybody to get there?

“It was a real trip. First we flew from Cape Town to East London, drove to Butterworth 120km. I thought that was it but then there was the drive to the village (Chebe in Centane).

“Neal, you’re English. You've got no idea, a dust road for about 50km, not even a four-by-four can go on that thing, we crossed river, water, rocks. And all of it in an Avis rental car, it must be buggered.

“We managed to get there 12.30, the funeral had started, we already told the mother we’d be late, she respected that.

“We were there. Listened to a couple of speeches. Then the minister started the real thing. Coffin was carried, Cecil was buried. After that we had to leave, needed three hours to get back to airport. We spoke to the father and the mother. We did everything we could.

“I hear stories Ajax stopped players from attending, all this hogwash. This minister arrived 45 minutes before me, having a political go. Using it as a political tool. DA against ANC. Majodina her name was. She looked disappointed when we got there.

“It’s about Lolo, not politics. Nobody stopped anyone from going, the club felt that’s what they were going to do from the beginning. The family chose the burial site, what more do you want?

“I have to ask. Why didn’t Robert Marawa go? I was there. Some close friends of his were there. But some people just can’t get there. That’s life today, you know what I mean.

“Everyone’s climbing on a bandwagon, trying to be all cultural, it’s very disappointing. Ari is trying to protect the players, obviously they didn’t go. No player came and asked to come because they knew where it was.

“Two memorial services, armbands, minute’s silence, we even stopped the match to clap in the 21st minute. All these things were done. Lolo’s seat is empty in the dressing room with flowers on it. We’re going to put a picture up. We respected his culture.

“I saw a picture of Senzo’s grave the other day, he doesn’t even have a grave stone yet. All the people who are having a go, these soccer journalists who never played football, where were they? Did they pay their respects?

Cecil was “The Real Warrior” to me. We had a very good relationship. I was devastated. It only sank in when I got to the parent’s home in the morning. It hit me.

“You go through it, feel every tear, yet here people are lying about players not being allowed to attend the funeral. What kind of story is that?”

Should any media houses/sites wish to use excerpts from this EXCLUSIVE story, feel free, just credit. And stop trying to capitalise on Cecil Lolo's death.

UPDATE: November 11: This story has been used by Kickoff, The Citizen, News24 and The Times.

1 What Cecil's dad says:

2 What Senzo's dad says:

Sunday, 8 November 2015

WELL HELLO DOLLY: What Angola SHOULD be saying when they play South Africa on Saturday

FORM-IDABLE: Dolly makes his Bafana debut v Sudan last year

PICTURE THIS: Saturday in Angola's Benguela Province, South Africa's men in green surging forward with Keagan Dolly and Kermit Erasmus, the PSL's in-form front-runners, leading the crusade for World Cup qualification.

Of course, it ain't gonna happen. But it should.

Even as the pain of his Telkom KO semi-final defeat sunk in on Saturday night, SuperSport United coach Gordon Igesund had time to mention the name on everybody’s lips: Keagan Dolly.

With disappointment written all over his face, the former Bafana Bafana coach knew exactly what he was saying: “The big difference tonight was Dolly. He was fantastic for Sundowns.”

And as Gord’s nemesis Pitso Mosimane celebrated reaching the final against Kaizer Chiefs on December 16 - yes, that’s right, Reconciliation Day - he too grasped that particular nettle: why is 22-year-old Dolly, perhaps South Africa’s best player, consistently ignored by Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba?

Dolly actually made his debut for the senior side against Sudan in AFCON2015 qualifiers last season, but he has been used as an Under 23 player ever since, with some effect. Since that debut he has made the loan-delayed R7m move to Sundowns from Ajax Cape Town and he appears to go from strength to strength despite the leap to Tshwane.

But with the crucial two-legged World Cup qualifiers against Angola coming up in Benguela on Saturday and Durban next Tuesday, Dolly remains out of the Banana squad despite starring for Mosimane’s Sundowns all season.

Shaun Barlett told me on Sunday no discussion has taken place over Dolly’s U23 commitments. What is clear is, Dolly could play against Angola AND participate in the 8-nation Olympic qualifying tournament in Senegal later this month.

On top of all this came Saturday’s news - kept quiet since last Thursday - of Itumeleng Khune’s knee injury which will require surgery this week, putting the Kaizer Chiefs No1 out of Mashaba’s plans.

And it has to be asked: If Tower Mathoho was too sore to take a penalty in the Soweto Derby shoot-out on Saturday, can we expect him to play 90 minutes at the Ombaka Stadium on Saturday?

Up front, Tokelo Rantie made an all-too-brief Premier League debut when he came on as a late substitute for Bournemouth against Newcastle on Saturday. But that hardly compares to the work done by unpicked Kermit Erasmus in the PSL of late.

The idea of going in to the Angola games without the in-form Dolly and Erasmus seems ridiculous for a nation so short on real, young talent. Especially with defensive mainstays Khune and Mathoho in trouble.

The opposition? At 99, they’re ranked below South Africa (75) by FIFA but Angola have a well-funded local league and put Bafana out of CHAN (which is restricted to players from their domestic leagues) just last month. Though Thabo Senong appeared to run the show and they did manage a 2-1 away win after an awful 0-2 home defeat at the Rand Stadium, it's clearly not going to be a cake-walk.

Angola’s home-based players warmed up for the South Africa games with a four-nation tournament against DRC, Zambia and Namibia over the weekend, but they will call on an extra six European-based players for the World Cup qualifiers.

They have their own Dolly - Dolly Menga (Tondela FC of Portugal) - plus Djalma Campos (Genclerbirlije, Turkey), Clinton (Sport Charleroi, Belgium), Buatu (Waasland Beveren, Belgium), former Oldham star Kussunga (now in Switzerland) and Adão (Sion, Switzerland) to add to their homegrown stars.

Mashaba offers defiance: “The last time we beat Angola, you could see that they were not happy at all, they were very uncomfortable with a loss to us.

“They said to us, no we’ll get you next time and even before the CHAN game, their officials said now its payback time and they beat us.

“So this is going to be a very tough game for us against Angola again, so we’ll need strong boys with characters when we get there.” 

But without a win in EIGHT competitive games - the draw in Nigeria then three at AFCON 2015, two at home in the COSAFA Cup and two in AFCON 2017 qualifying - words and friendly results are not enough.

Shakes needs to consider form not old favourites or agent recommendations. The thought of Dolly and Erasmus on the rampage should be foremost in his mind.