Battle Lines Drawn Between Mashaba And Jordaan
Editor's Blog: Battle Lines Drawn Between Mashaba And Jordaan
Bafana Bafana’s head coach, Shakes Mashaba, has been suspended by the South African Football Association following, as SAFA’s statement read, a “regrettable incident at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday, 12 November 2016”.
The “regrettable incident” being referred to happened after the final whistle sounded to give Bafana a 2–1 home win against Senegal in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, when, before the post-match interviews, a visibly frustrated Mashaba lashed out at anyone who cared to listen. What was supposed to be a good win – notwithstanding the dubious penalty awarded to Bafana – was almost completely overshadowed by Mashaba’s rant, as he pointed a finger at almost everyone and claimed to be a victim of a lack of support. His assistant, Thabo Senong, as well as SAFA’s Communications Officer, Matlhomola Morake, tried, mostly in vain, to restrain the infuriated Mashaba from lashing out at SAFA officials.
“This is my second life! These people have already buried me, you know that?” lamented Mashaba after the game, pointing a finger at the media for all the continued speculation surrounding his future with the national team. But before I even discuss Mashaba’s attack of the media, let me firstly explain why I fully understand his frustrations, at the risk of sounding like I’m condoning his shameful behaviour.
SAFA can’t deny Mashaba’s claims of lack of support, as they have virtually deserted him in his hour of need. If anything, the head honchos from SAFA House have continuously fuelled rumours of Mashaba’s axing with bold media statements, as if to suggest the coach is on his own. Everyone seems to be distancing themselves from the coach who is said to be “stubborn and doesn’t want to listen to anyone”, so maybe it’s a case of giving him a long enough rope to hang himself. However, all the while there have been a number of ‘heads must roll’ threats indirectly pointed at the coach from some of the top brass at SAFA House.
One comment that comes to mind was that of Danny Jordaan after Bafana’s 1–1 last 2017 AFCON dead rubber qualifier against Mauritania at Mbombela Stadium. He stated, “I think it was a disappointing performance, we have to say that up straight. This must be the end of the journey, not the beginning, because this cannot lead us to the 2018 campaign, where we play the giants of the African continent. I hope that the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Egypt will indicate to us that we have the team, the determination and the will and guts to win. What we saw tonight was disappointing. We had a goal given to us through a penalty, we had numerous opportunities, but we cannot continue to talk about the same thing. I think we want to see a better performance against Egypt and I hope that we will see that…”
The president’s comment, among others, clearly didn’t sit well with the Bafana coach, so it came as no surprise when he was asked in a recent interview with Soccer Laduma why SAFA wasn’t standing up for him, Mashaba simply replied, “Those are the people who must come out, but if you listen to their comments in the newspapers, they are scary… scary. I have a contract with SAFA and for them to be bringing up new things to say, ‘What, what… heads will roll.’ For me it’s a shock and surprise, you know.” That statement pretty much sums up the relationship between Mashaba and his bosses.
It is also said that Mashaba refused to shake SAFA president Danny Jordaan’s hand after the game, as well as insulted him in what appears to be a protest of lack of support from the mother body’s powers-that-be. It has also been reported that both Jordaan and SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble were unhappy with the head coach’s behaviour, which is what led to his suspension less than 24 hours after the team’s victory. It seems Mashaba clearly felt vindicated by this recent victory and now the battle lines have been drawn between him and Jordaan. That said, Owen da Gama was entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the team in the international friendly against Mozambique last night (Tuesday), while Mashaba’s future at this stage remains unclear. However, as the beleaguered coach has been walking a proverbial tightrope for a long time now, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the controversial win against Senegal was his last game in charge of the team.
So, on one hand I see where Shakes is coming from. However, my gripe with the 66-year-old Mashaba is his constant attitude towards the media whenever the going gets tough. When the media sang his praises during his lengthy unbeaten streak leading up to Bafana’s impressive qualification for the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea, he had no problem basking in the headlines stating he might be the ‘Messiah of South African football’. However, the moment the media questioned his tactics and things became a bit more challenging, he was quick to point a finger instead of addressing matters at hand. He has also played the race card on a few occasions, as well as accused the media of having an agenda against him, which is farfetched to say the very least.
One thing Coach Shakes needs to understand is that the media is not here to play a public relations role for him, and that when players like Kamohelo Mokotjo, Dino Ndlovu, Kermit Erasmus and others quit the national team, we will attempt to find out why. It is our duty to do so. Similarly, if SAFA continues to issue strong statements against him, we are not going to stop writing about them. Anyone who holds public office will forever be subjected to public scrutiny; it just comes with the territory! You either withstand the heat, or you get out of the kitchen, simple as that.