Can we trust Shakes?

Bafana’s fail­ure to qual­ify for the Af­con 2017 fi­nals has once again sent the ru­mour mill into over­drive, writes Timothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

Af­ter fail­ing in one as­pect of his two man­dates – to reach the Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions – the big ques­tion is whether Shakes Mashaba should be en­trusted with the team through the 2018 World Cup qual­i­fiers?

The Af­con draw will take place later this month, re­sult­ing in five groups whose win­ners will go to Rus­sia. The matches start in Oc­to­ber.

Calls for Mashaba’s head have grown, some­thing that has be­come the norm af­ter coaches miss ma­jor tour­na­ments.

Bafana’s slim hopes of play­ing at next year’s tour­na­ment were dashed last week­end when the team was of­fi­cially knocked out of the com­pe­ti­tion, de­spite hav­ing one more game re­main­ing.

With re­ally noth­ing to play for against Mau­ri­ta­nia in Septem­ber, Mashaba’s de­trac­tors have called for his sack­ing.

Those hop­ing he would be fired this week would have been dis­ap­pointed by the lat­est turn of events.

Safa chief ex­ec­u­tive Den­nis Mum­ble was quoted early in the week as say­ing Mashaba would be grilled by the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee. City Press has learnt, how­ever, from tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee chair­per­son Natasha Tsich­las, that the be­lea­guered coach was not the sub­ject of dis­cus­sion at their meet­ing – which was sched­uled for Fri­day.

“This is a rou­tine meet­ing which was sched­uled a long time ago,” said Tsich­las.

She also said Bafana’s fail­ure to qual­ify for Gabon was not on the agenda.

“We sched­ule our meet­ings long in ad­vance and this meet­ing has noth­ing to do with Bafana’s fail­ure to qual­ify for the tour­na­ment. As much as we are all dis­ap­pointed, we have to wait for the tech­ni­cal team’s re­port and go through it be­fore com­ment­ing.”

She said some of the is­sues they dis­cussed were to do with match of­fi­cials and the med­i­cal team.

The com­mit­tee would have to re­port to the na­tional ex­ec­u­tive af­ter it re­viewed the team’s per­for­mances.

“We will go through the re­ports and give feed­back to the ex­ec­u­tive. But re­mem­ber, there is still one more game to go be­fore we start with the qual­i­fiers.”

Last week­end, Bafana did well in Gam­bia, scor­ing four goals and beat­ing the hosts 4-0, thanks to braces from Tham­sanqa Gabuza and Kea­gan Dolly.

The re­sult, though, meant lit­tle to Mashaba’s men af­ter other re­sults saw var­i­ous teams reaching 10 points – one more than Bafana could achieve, pro­vided they beat Mau­ri­ta­nia. And as Cameroon has al­ready won Group M, Bafana have au­to­mat­i­cally been knocked out.

The SA team had hoped to sneak through as one of the best sec­ond-placed sides but that, too, is no longer achiev­able. Tu­nisia, Liberia, the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Uganda and Burk­ina Faso al­ready have 10 points. Cape Verde has nine points and has one more game left.

Mashaba had al­ready said he would use the re­main­ing games to pre­pare the team for the World Cup qual­i­fiers.

Since Bafana Bafana were crowned as the Africa Cup of Na­tions cham­pi­ons on home soil back in 1996, they have failed to reach the fi­nals on three oc­ca­sions – in 2010 (Angola), in 2012 (Equa­to­rial Guinea and Gabon) and in 2017 (Gabon).

Ten coun­tries – Gabon, Morocco, Al­ge­ria, Cameroon, Sene­gal, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea-Bis­sau, Zim­babwe and Mali – have al­ready booked their spots in Gabon, with the re­main­ing six places to be de­cided in the last round of the qual­i­fiers in Septem­ber.

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

GROUNDED Andile Jali and his Bafana team-mates have failed to qual­ify for Gabon next year and Rus­sia in 2018 is look­ing fur­ther away AT THE FORE­FRONT Panyaza Le­sufi says the new Swal­lows own­ers will be re­vealed soon

PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES

NO BIG DEAL Tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee boss Natasha Tsich­las says Shakes Mashaba need not worry

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