Winning‚ losing and mean streaks: A look back at Shakes Mashaba’s last tenure as Bafana coach
Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba has had his ups and downs in the almost two and a half years of his fourth stint as Bafana Bafana coach.
He has won big matches‚ reached a first major tournament - other than as hosts - since 2008.
On the flipside‚ the coach's notorious stubbornness and temper have seen him refuse to research opposition‚ costing him other big games and pitching him into running battles with the media and his South African Football Association (Safa) bosses.
TMG Sport reviews the Mashaba's latest Bafana tenure:
- July 2014: Mashaba appointed Bafana coach. He replaces Gordon Igesund‚ whose two-year contract was not renewed by Safa.
- September 2014: Mashaba begins with a 3-0 away 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying victory against Sudan in Khartoum.
- October 2014: Bafana get a second away victory‚ and an impressive one: a 2-0 away against Congo in Pointe Noir. Mashaba hands Rivaldo Coetzee a debut in central defence aged 17 years and 59 days old to become Bafana's youngest international.
- October 2014: SA come home and draw 0-0 against Congo in Polokwane. Mashaba is accused by Congo coach Claude le Roy of showing his crotch to the Frenchman‚ who was incensed.
- November 2014: Bafana wrap up their first qualification for a major tournament other than as hosts since the 2008 Afcon in Ghana with a 2-1 win against Sudan in Durban‚ with a match to spare against Nigeria.
- November 2014: SA throw away a 2-0 lead against Nigeria in Uyo to draw 2-2. They have drawn both matches against the Super Eagles in the Afcon qualifiers and reach Equatorial Guinea 2015 unbeaten as Group A winners with three wins and three draws. Congo qualify as runners-up.
- December 2014: Mashaba names his 23-man Afcon squad. There is no room for Thulani Serero‚ though the coach is generally praised for taking a hard line on the Ajax Amsterdam man‚ who failed to turn up for a pre-tournament camp. However‚ things will be tough for Mashaba’s brave new young Bafana in Equatorial Guinea‚ where they have been drawn to play Algeria‚ Senegal and Ghana.
- January 2015: Bafana begin with a 3-1 defeat against Algeria. The scoreline flatters the North Africans‚ who are helped in coming back from 1-0 down by two goalkeeping errors from Darren Keet.
- January 2015: With Jackson Mabokgwane in goal‚ who is only marginally more convincing‚ SA again spurn a lead in a 1-1 draw against Senegal.
- January 2015: In an unprecedented move‚ SA play three goalkeepers at an Afcon finals as Brilliant Khuzwayo lines up against Ghana‚ as SA spurn another lead to lose 2-1. Mashaba's rotation of keepers and captains are questioned after the tournament. South Africa's exit from the Group of Death without a win is disappointing‚ though not the “disaster” it is labelled in some quarters. Mashaba appears to be on track in his Visions 2018 and 2022.
- May 2015: The first hint of things starting to unravel for Bafana come as hosts of the 2015 Cosafa Cup in Rustenburg. Mashaba selects PSL bench-warmers when surely a continuation of his youth policy would have been better advised‚ though it is unclear how much backing he also had from Safa to select juniors. An insipid Bafana lose on penalties against Botswana and Malawi. This after Mashaba had labelled the Cosafa tournament as important‚ because domination for SA should begin regionally.
Asked quite harmlessly at the end of the tournament what response he had to his critics‚ Mashaba responded that: “I understand - it goes with agendas. I want to repeat today‚ we had a World Cup-winning coach [Carlos Parreira]. We went the same route. I've never heard the question‚ 'Is he the right coach or not?’ He came and he went. I'm going to be rude - I think my colour is a problem here. That’s what I'm going to say.”
This was an early skirmish with the SA press that was going to develop into an all-out war in the months to come‚ as eventually Mashaba would launch tirade after tirade - never an advisable approach with the media for a Bafana coach.
- June 2015: Mashaba admits to not having researched Gambia as Bafana get their 2017 Afcon qualifying campaign under way in Durban‚ and a 0-0 draw follows that puts SA under pressure in Group M.
- June 2015: Mashaba backtracks on an earlier plan to call youngsters for a Chan qualifier against Mauritius at Dobsonville Stadium‚ attempting to retain senior players from the Gambia qualifier and a friendly against Angola for one more week in the off-season‚ angering clubs and irritating his Safa bosses. Worryingly‚ this is increasingly becoming the stubborn Mashaba of previous Bafana tenures.
- September 2015: Again Mashaba says his policy is to not research the opposition as Bafana travel to Nouakchott to meet Mauritania in their second Afcon 2017 qualifier. This time‚ though‚ the wheels fall off as the coach returns from a 3-1 defeat admitting to not having known SA would play on an artificial surface.
In the face of the consequent storm of criticism‚ he calls a journalist a “small boy” in response to an innocuous statement made on Twitter‚ and has his son‚ Jabu‚ sit in on the post-match press conference to the following week's friendly win against Senegal at Orlando Stadium to question the media’s “patriotism”.
- October 2015: Bafana have a promising tour of Central America‚ beating 2014 World Cup quarterfinalists Costa Rica 1-0 and drawing 1-1 against Honduras.
- November 2015: Mashaba reminds his detractors he can get results in important matches with a 4-1 aggregate victory over Angola (3-1 away) to reach the group stage of qualifying for the 2018 Russia World Cup.
- March and June 2016: Bafana’s 2-2 away draw and 0-0 home draw against Cameroon‚ then a 4-0 thrashing of Gambia‚ show that if they had not had such disastrous opening results‚ they could have reached Afcon 2017.
- June 2016: Bafana - a shadow SA U-23 team preparing for the Rio Olympics in August - make up for Rustenburg the previous year and win the Cosafa Cup in Windhoek with victories over Lesotho‚ Swaziland and Botswana. Even here there are complications. Mashaba‚ as head coach‚ has to be called into a meeting with his assistant‚ Owen da Gama‚ the U23 head coach‚ by head of delegation Gerald Don to ask the two to cooperate better.
- August 2016: Bafana begin their 2018 World Cup group stage campaign with another big result under Mashaba‚ drawing 1-1 against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou.
- November 2016: They get an even better result by beating group favourites Senegal 2-1 in Polokwane. Mashaba's running battles with everyone - the press‚ the clubs‚ his Safa bosses - comes to a head‚ though. After more tirades at the media during the week‚ and after the win‚ the coach loses his cool and wags a finger at Safa president Danny Jordaan - who is in attendance - ahead of his post-match TV interview‚ and has to be restrained by SABC journalist Kwena Moabelo and Safa media officer Matlhomola Morake. The coach is suspended the following day‚ with a disciplinary hearing pending.
- 22 December 2016: Shakes Mashaba is dismissed by Safa.
– TMG Sport