Mashaba puts country before cred

2011-12-03 18:53

The South African Under-23 coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba this week revealed that choosing between denting his reputation and embarrassing his country was a tough decision.

He said: “What people must understand is that the reason we came here was to avoid the disgrace. The disgrace that would have happened if South Africa had withdrawn from the competition because there were no players.”

Mashaba said he risked denting his reputation as head coach when he agreed to take a “makeshift team” to the CAF Under-23 Championships in Morocco instead of opting to withdraw. The team hardly had ideal preparation as it headed straight north after only three training sessions.

Most of the players he wanted to include in the squad couldn’t make it because of the compromise SA Football Association entered into with the Premier Soccer League and European teams, refusing to release players.

Mashaba said South Africa would have would have been disgraced had he withdrawn from the competition.

“That’s why I took it upon myself to come here and honour the games because my heart bleeds to see all the effort we put in go to waste,” he said. “This is what we have been dying for and even if I had to bring 14 players, I would have travelled.”

He said the team’s lack of proper preparation was evident in the opening two matches against Ivory Coast and Gabon.

In both encounters, Baby Bafana faded in the second half, allowing their opponents to penetrate their last line of defence.

Said Mashaba: “I always remind people about our motto, that in the absence of the best make the worst the best.

“I know failing will put my reputation as coach at stake because I get judged by the team’s performance.
And that is the reason I am saying: ‘If people employ you, they do so for a reason’. So I’d rather complete the mission and respond later.”

Mashaba believes Baby Bafana would have walked all over Ivory Coast and Gabon without breaking a sweat had he had all relevant players at his disposal. But he was quick to commend the players in the camp, saying: “They put in all their effort and did not disgrace the country.”

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