Cape Town - There is a new primadonna in town!
His name is Thulani Serero - the gifted midfield wizard from Soweto who now plies his trade in far away Holland.
This week, the spoilt brat gave the South African Football Association (SAFA) and Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter an ultimatum: Give me assurance that I will have game time or I am not joining the national team.
He did this ahead of a very crucial 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Senegal which Bafana Bafana needs to win.
His timing could not have been worse. When he sent this message the coach was grappling with a number of headaches such as the injury to Itumeleng Khune, captain Thulani Hlatshwayo's fitness levels and the death of Hlompho Kekana’s mother-in-law which led to the player being released from the team.
So Baxter did not have the time to waste dealing with Diva tendencies.
What gets my goat is the fact that this is not the first time that Serero has had a tiff with a coach. He previously had a serious fallout with Shakes Mashaba when he was still the Bafana Bafana mentor.
At that time, the egomaniac had asked to join the camp late while he was already in South Africa because he wanted to spend time with his “family and friends” and Mashaba would have none of it.
Serero’s latest shenanigans happen at a time when South Africa is faced with one of the biggest matches in its recent history.
A draw, let alone a loss to Senegal would put paid to the national team’s dreams of going to Russia next year, hence Baxter needs all the weaponry he can amass in his arsenal.
Just last week (in another platform) I made a passionate plea to the nation to come up in big numbers and pack the New Peter Mokaba Stadium to the rafters for this fixture.
I pointed out that as much as Bafana have flattered to deceive recently, they were still our boys and needed our support.
I know that many - and I agree with them - feel that even if Bafana qualified for the World Cup, they would be the whipping boys of whichever Group they are drawn in.
However, qualifying for the global event is of the utmost importance. It brings pride to any country that achieves it and it has been a while since our beloved Bafana Bafana made it to the finals.
The team showed previously that Senegal – despite their galaxy of stars – is beatable. They actually did it at the same venue where this week’s match is played.
So who says that lightening can't strike twice in one place?
So Serero or no Serero, those players present must give this game their all and treat it with the seriousness it deserves.
SAFA, on the other hand, must not let this latest Serero saga just die down. They must act. Recently Tokelo Rantie did something similar and we still have to hear if there are any repercussions.
We do not want to revisit the past where Bennie McCarthy, Quinton Fortune and later Steve Pienaar picked and chose which call-ups they honoured, going into semi-retirement at different intervals.
If SAFA does not attend to this properly, something’s gotta give!
(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 over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor)