Axe had long been hanging over ‘Mbazo’

2011-03-19 19:45

Football-following South Africans are split right down the middle over the Aaron Mokoena issue.

You see, national soccer team coach Pitso Mosimane this week took the bold decision and left the former skipper out of the Bafana Bafana team that will face Egypt on Saturday.

This was followed by a huge outcry.

While some didn’t completely disagree with Mosimane’s ­decision, they queried the way it was done.

And therein lies the rub.

By the time this column was written Mosimane had not come out to explain how he had handled this sensitive matter with his previously trusted captain.

Nor had Mokoena come out to complain or explain whether the coach had sat him down and informed him of the decision.

The writing had been on the wall for quite some time that Mokoena’s days in the Bafana Bafana set-up were numbered.

To many, the flashlights started working overtime when Mosimane called up the man known as “Mbazo” – The Axe – the last time around only to leave him on the bench for the entire game.

Many had previously called for Mbazo to be chopped – excuse the intentional pun – from the team.

While being one of the most loyal servants of the national team, as is proven by his many caps, Mokoena has tremendously slowed down in recent times.

His mistakes, emanating from badly timed tackles, have also cost Bafana some crucial matches at times.

It also did not help his cause that his club was relegated from the English Premiership.

The problem with football – which also on the flip-side makes it so interesting – is that it is an emotional game of perceptions and loyalties.

If some fans had it their way, the likes of Kaizer Motaung, ­Jomo Sono, Shakes Mashaba, Cedric “Sugar Ray” Xulu and Lucas “Masterpieces” Moripe would still be playing today as nostalgia is such a warm feeling.

Unfortunately Mosimane, as the main man, has to make and live with difficult decisions.

After all, it’s his neck on the block and the nation will be on his case if Bafana lose, Mokoena or no Mokoena.

For now I think the lesson is that nothing lasts forever and “Mbazo” might just take a cue from the Gambling Board’s advice: “Winners know when to quit.”


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