More tears ahead for Mashaba

S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
Newly-appointed Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba shed a tear the other day.

Just in case you missed it, it was at a press conference to welcome him and the SA Under-20 national team back from their West African jaunt.

Mashaba became all emotional when talking about his new role with Bafana Bafana and asking the nation for their support.

His employers at the South African Football Association (SAFA) have promised him their full support. If the groundswell of support from the nation is anything to go by, the majority of the population is behind him.

A few players, from Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune, former skipper Aaron Mokoena, Teko Modise and others, have also thrown their weight behind the new man and praised SAFA on their choice saying this is the right candidate for the job.

Why, even former Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane has vowed to support Mashaba through and through saying "even if he wants six players from us (Sundowns), he will get them".

Beautiful words!

But we all know how it has been in the past. I mean, not a single one of the more than 20 coaches that have occupied the Bafana hot-seat have been spared from the country v club saga.

Even Mosimane himself spoke about how he had players pulled off the national team from the airport just as they were about to depart for an important match.

Mashaba too has been a victim of this syndrome and it is part of what cost him his job the last time around, even if he had easily qualified the team for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Tunisia.

So he should view all this sudden change of heart with suspicion, if he knows what's good for him.

Another worry is whether the players he is going to select will show the same passion he has shown, even crying in public, a show of emotion that most grown-up men quite shy away from doing?

The crop of players we have these days have proven time and again that to them it is all about money. They are the type that are found smiling even after losing an important match.

Absent is the emotion and passion that goes with pulling the national shirt over your head.

This is the group that goes on social network platforms as soon as the final whistle sounds, whether they have won or lost. There seems to be no shame among these players.

This means that besides training them, giving them tips and shaping them on the training field, Mashaba will have to deal with bad attitudes and king-size egos.

This is besides the fact that our players are no world-beaters, something that has been proven time and again.

Otherwise how do you explain their failure to qualify for the 2010 and 2012 AFCON tournaments, being bundled out of the first round at the 2010 Soccer World Cup hosted in the country, failing at the quarter-final stage of the 2013 AFCON also hosted in SA and being bundled out of the African Nations Championships (CHAN) also hosted here?

This brings us to another argument, if Mashaba is a good driver, does he have a good car to achieve his goals?

He has to pick a number of the same players who have failed in the past or will he go for a total overhaul and build a team for the future comprising of the group of players Gordon Igesund took on the Australasian tour earlier this year when big names turned down their call-ups?

If he goes that route, will the nation be patient with him as South Africans have proven in the past that they are a nation that expects instant results and success?

All these are pointers that while Mashaba could be the right man, he has indeed taken on a mammoth task. It is not going to be easy to turn Bafana Bafana around.

It can be done but it's not gonna be a walk in the park and Mashaba might find himself shedding even more tears in the process.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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