The players who inspired Bafana
Farouk Khan reveals the reasons he believes Bafana have done so well
BAFANA Bafana’s first qualification for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals since 2008 was as surprising as it was stunning.
Coming as it did without a single loss in six matches by a squad teeming with a bunch of unknowns, the success has served to confirm Shakes Mashaba’s status as a miracle worker of sorts.
Termed by some as ‘a cheap option’ for the Safa, who were initially chasing after big name, international coaches – Mashaba has not only booked Bafana a place at the continent’s top event but did so in style.
That his more revered predecessors had failed on two occasions, in 2010 and 2012, helped Mashaba serve large helpings of humble pie to his detractors.
This after all, is a coach who had previously earned the country a ticket to the self-same continental competition back in 2004, only to be kicked out before the tournament.
It is the same coach under whom the national Under-20 side became the first national team to qualify for a World Championship (in 1997) and the Under-23 side played at the Olympics back in 2000.
Before he took over the sen- ior side, Mashaba had just seen to the under 20s qualifying for the continental tournament to be played next year. So, while there were those who felt Safa made a financial decision in their choice of replacement for Gordon Igesund, the discerning soccer fan would have known there was a very good chance Mashaba would deliver.
Yet few, if any, would have foreseen him turning things around as spectacularly as he
has. Not when Bafana had become the laughing stock of the continent, the joke being that the only time our national team got to participate in competitions was as hosts. Enter Mashaba and all that has changed, with Bafana likely to arrive in Equatorial Guinea as one of the dark horses. But how did he do it?
How did Mashaba turn a Bafana squad that sports minister Fikile Mbalula only last year called ‘a bunch of losers’ following their implosion in the African Championships (CHAN)?
Farouk Khan, pictured, a former member of the Safa technical team, has watched all of Bafana’s six qualifying matches and here the renowned TV analyst gives what he believes it are the three factors that Mashaba got right.