Bafana Bafana look like AFCON 2015 champions

2014-11-19 09:52

Ephraim Shakes Mashaba

Wow! Not many managers have the ability to turn a national team into a bunch of winners. Especially considering that Bafana Bafana has underperformed since 2008, we hosted a successful World Cup that brought with it many positives but on the field of play Bafana struggled. We couldn’t make it out of the group stages of the World Cup. Nevertheless Bafana beat a French side that was lacking confidence and everything seemed okay. We played in the last AFCON competition not on merit but on the exception of being the hosts.

Now, we are in a new era…”The Shakes era”.  Sitting pretty at the top of the AFCON group with 11 points out of a possible 15, we can safely say that we are now looking at a new national team. The old Bafana, the bunch of losers are dead and gone.

Let us look at some of the vital changes made by Shakes so far:

Patriotism

Patriotism is, generally speaking, cultural attachment to one's homeland or devotion to one's country. I always felt that the love to play for your country was missing for a very long time. I struggled to understand why SAFA would look outside of South Africa and Africa for a manager. With Shakes we have a local manager who understands the culture of South African football and the importance of making your country proud.

Discipline and Team Unity

Mashaba is a no nonsense manager, he expects 100% commitment from all his players and demands respect from them. What makes him very different to many of the previous Bafana Bafana managers is that he concentrates more on the players that want to play for him instead of getting caught in the dramatic web of the players that don’t. When May excluded himself from the squad due to fatigue, Mashaba was brief and swift in his actions; he said two sentences about it and asked the media to rather concentrate on the players who took the time out to play for their national team. He recently stated in an interview: “Ours has always been about team unity. I don’t know if this is the right thing to say, but this is a group of no-name players. There are no egos in this squad.”

Team Selection

I could name the whole World Cup squad not because they were the best players in South Africa but because I identified them from their European clubs. That’s the mistake most international managers make, they believe that just because a player performs for his club that he will travel to Sudan and represent South Africa with a similar performance. Most players can but not many are willing to, Mashaba has an eye to pick the ones that deliver for club and country. Thulane Serero and Dean Furman is the perfect example of this.

Winning Mentality

Winning becomes a habit. Mashaba turned over a mind-set of a national football team being content with respectable losses and draws to a team that expects to win every single time they get onto the field of play.

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