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
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.
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