Is it time for Bafana to shake Mashaba off?

Another year, and Bafana Bafana stay struggling to qualify for a competition. The team is almost out of the running to secure their place at AFCON 2017. South Africa are currently third in their group on three points, with two games to play. ALICIA PILLAY-WAGIET wonders where it’s all going wrong.

Cameroon top the log on eight points while Mauritania are second on seven points. This means Bafana will have to win their remaining matches against Gambia and Mauritania and also hope the teams above them lose to give them any chance of playing at next years tournament.

The obvious question now is where is it all going wrong? Unfortunately, there isn’t just one answer. The life span of a coach in at any football team is seldom a long tenure. We see coaches come and go more often than not. Is it time for yet another change at the helm of our national team?

There have been 16 coaches post-isolation, with Shakes Mashaba in his second stint. Is it time for Mashaba to go, for good?

Losing the players
This is the latest debacle to come out of the Bafana camp. Khamelo Mokotjo made it clear earlier this year he would not honour his national team call-up via an Instagram post. He was unhappy with the amount of game time and made himself unavailable until things changed.

This then saw players anonymously share their thoughts about how unhappy they were about Mashaba’s apparent favouritism and game tactics.

What are the solutions?
It seems when Mashaba is questioned on to how to fix the issues, he says the problem is not solely with the national team. It’s been said for years that things need to change at grass roots level so we can see the improvements with the senior teams. Mashaba coming from the junior team ranks should know more than a thing or two about how players should be developed to ensure they are successful within Bafana.

A coaching job is usually in a four-year cycle, and in that time frame the team not only needs to qualify, but also perform well at tournaments. But this hasn’t been the case for South Africa since Clive Barker was in the charge. They won the 1996 African Cup of Nations (20 years ago, we know), they were finalists in the 1998 competition and qualified for the World Cup in France that year as well. It has gotten progressively worse, as not qualifying has become the norm. The only reason we were at the 2010 World Cup and the 2015 AFCON is because we hosted the two events.

Who should take over?
Is it finally the time for Gavin Hunt to be given the top coaching job in South Africa? He is arguably one of best coaches in the country and has also been mentioned when the topic of Bafana’s next coach comes up. He has won seven trophies since he began coaching, three of which have been league titles with Supersport United. This year, he almost guided Wits the league title but Mamelodi Sundowns were just too good. In saying that, could Pitso Mosimane make a return to the national fold? He has won the league twice since he arrived at The Brazilians but that return might be too soon!

Back to the matter at hand, on Saturday, Bafana travel to Gambia for their second to last qualifier for AFCON 2017. Their fate could be sealed by then, giving new meaning to “do or die”.

Alicia Pillay bio picAlicia Pillay-Wagiet is a multimedia journalist, with experience in broadcast, online and social media, specialising in sports reporting. She loves all sport, but is especially passionate about soccer, rugby and golf.

Featured image by Chris Kirchhoff for Media Club SA