Why Shakes dropped Serero

Ar­ro­gance and in­dis­ci­pline led to Bafana mid­fielder Thu­lani Serero’s ex­clu­sion from the fi­nal Af­con squad

CityPress - - Front Page - – Ti­mothy Molobi

A jax Am­s­ter­dam ace mid­fielder Thu­lani Serero snubbed Bafana Bafana’s five-day mini camp and boasted to other play­ers he would see them after the an­nounce­ment of the fi­nal squad for the Africa Cup Na­tions (Af­con) fi­nals.

This week, coach Shakes Mashaba shocked the na­tion when he did not name Serero in the 23-man squad to rep­re­sent the coun­try at the Af­con fi­nals in Equa­to­rial Guinea.

City Press can to­day re­veal that Serero was al­ready in the coun­try when the mini camp be­gan on De­cem­ber 26, but chose not to at­tend the train­ing ses­sions and was later spot­ted at fes­tive sea­son soc­cer tour­na­ments in Soweto.

This was one of the rea­sons Mashaba ex­cluded him from the Af­con-bound squad.

A jax Am­s­ter­dam ace mid­fielder Thu­lani Serero snubbed a Bafana Bafana five-day mini camp and boasted to peers that he would see them after the fi­nal an­nounce­ment of the team.

This week, coach Shakes Mashaba shocked the na­tion when he left Serero out of the 23man squad to rep­re­sent South Africa at the Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) fi­nals in Equa­to­rial Guinea.

But when Mashaba laid out his bat­tle plan for Af­con, his rea­sons for drop­ping Serero did not ini­tially make sense.

City Press can to­day re­veal Serero was al­ready in the coun­try when the mini camp be­gan on De­cem­ber 26. But he chose not to at­tend the camp and was spot­ted at fes­tive sea­son soc­cer tour­na­ments in Soweto. At th­ese games, Serero al­legedly boasted to other Bafana play­ers that he was only go­ing to see the rest of the team on Jan­uary 2 – days after the squad had been an­nounced.

Mashaba is usu­ally an ar­tic­u­late man, but the ar­gu­ment he pre­sented in try­ing to ex­plain Serero’s omis­sion – that other play­ers were bet­ter than him – was not con­vinc­ing.

Nev­er­the­less, City Press can re­veal ill-dis­ci­pline was the main rea­son Serero lost his place in the team.

Serero’s axing caused a pub­lic up­roar, but to­day we re­veal the real rea­sons the Ajax Am­s­ter­dam mid­field maestro will not travel to Equa­to­rial Guinea:

The 24-year-old ar­rived in the coun­try shortly after play­ing in Ajax’s 2-0 win over Ex­cel­sior on De­cem­ber 21, but he failed to re­port for Bafana’s mini train­ing camp that took place in Joburg on De­cem­ber 26 and ended on De­cem­ber 30;

Prior to the five-day camp, Serero – known to his peers as “Cream” – was spot­ted with some of Bafana’s play­ers at­tend­ing fes­tive games in Soweto;

Mashaba was in­fu­ri­ated by al­le­ga­tions the mid­fielder boasted to some of his na­tional team-mates that he would see them on Jan­uary 2 when the team re­con­vened, thus as­sum­ing he was an au­to­matic choice for the Af­con squad; and

That Ajax had writ­ten a let­ter to the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) say­ing the player needed a rest.

Although it could have been a case of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two par­ties, this flies in the face of Mashaba’s phi­los­o­phy, which en­com­passes dis­ci­pline, pa­tri­o­tism and ded­i­ca­tion.

Even be­fore an­nounc­ing his 23-man squad, Mashaba read a long state­ment in which he un­der­scored the same prin­ci­ples – no player would sim­ply walk into his team, and dis­ci­pline and pa­tri­o­tism was paramount.

City Press has learnt there was a huge de­bate about the mer­its of in­clud­ing Serero be­tween the tech­ni­cal team mem­bers on the night be­fore the an­nounce­ment.

But it is un­der­stood that Mashaba stuck to his guns de­spite the pleas from his staff.

It must be pointed out that, in his pre­vi­ous stint with Bafana, in­tran­si­gence is what cost Mashaba his job de­spite an im­pec­ca­ble record.

In 2003, the no-non­sense coach dropped the likes of Mark Fish, Benni McCarthy, Shaun Bartlett and for­mer cap­tain Lu­cas Radebe for the friendly against Eng­land, which was played to pro­mote the 2006 World Cup bid.

But de­spite the huge pub­lic out­cry after their ex­clu­sion, Mashaba did not budge and Safa even­tu­ally side­lined him for the game. Jomo Sono took charge of the match, which Bafana ended up los­ing 2-1 in Dur­ban.

With­out dwelling too much on the Serero is­sue this week, Mashaba said he was dis­ap­pointed with the kind of be­hav­iour shown by South African play­ers when­ever they were called up to play for the na­tional team.

“This is a na­tional team, not a club, and there are ways of deal­ing with prob­lems which I won’t men­tion. We have been en­coun­ter­ing this kind of prob­lem – play­ers lack­ing pa­tri­o­tism and ded­i­ca­tion,” said Mashaba.

Ac­cord­ing to him, they had ex­pected all the play­ers – ex­cept Dean Fur­man – to re­port to the camp, “even if it was on the sec­ond day”. “Andile [ Jali] came [to the camp] car­ry­ing a knock, but he still made it. This is the kind of ded­i­ca­tion we are look­ing for. We would have ex­pected peo­ple to re­port to camp, even if it was on the sec­ond day. The pur­pose of the camp is to pro­mote com­rade­ship.

“If I come late to camp, I don’t know what has been said about me. When you are late to a meet­ing, you don’t con­trib­ute be­cause you don’t know what was said about you. You al­ways take a back seat.” Serero is ar­guably South Africa’s best Euro­pean-based player avail­able, but the for­mer Ajax Cape Town player has had a few run-ins with Safa and was last year sent home from the Bafana camp be­fore a World Cup qual­i­fier against Botswana, when Gor­don Ige­sund was still coach. Serero’s man­ager Mike Ntombela de­clined to com­ment.

Mean­while, Bafana take on Zam­bia, the 2012 Af­con cham­pi­ons, in their farewell match at Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto this af­ter­noon.

The game will be broad­cast live on SABC 1 and Siyaya TV on StarSat StarTimes Sport 2 (chan­nel 241) at 3pm to­day

DROPPED Thu­lani Serero trains at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in Dur­ban ahead of the Af­con qual­i­fier against Su­dan

PHOTO: SA­BELO MN­GOMA / BACK­PAGEPIX

CUR­DLED CREAM Thu­lani Serero has an­gered Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba with his no-show at the na­tional team’s mini camp

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