Safa: Serero 'can go fly a kite'
Thulani Serero's international career is over.
Incensed SA Football Association (Safa) chief executive Dennis Mumble told the Sunday Times that Serero "can go fly a kite". He effectively administered the last rites to the unruly player's international career after the Netherlands-based midfield star handed an astonishing ultimatum to the Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.
Serero sent shock waves across the nation this week after he said he would not show up for Bafana's crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal on Friday and other future international matches unless he was guaranteed a place in the team's starting line-up.
A stunned Mumble made it very clear he wouldn't tolerate Serero's behaviour.
Thulani has done this before
''Nobody can agree to that kind of nonsense. No, we aren't going to do that. You can quote me on this one, he can go fly a kite if he wants a guarantee that he is going to play," Mumble said.
"So for all intents and purposes, Serero has ended his career with the national team.
"If there are mitigating circumstances, we are always willing to listen. But he must say what those mitigating or extenuating circumstances are. What we received from him telephonically is not acceptable," he added.
Serero has tormented several Bafana head coaches before and Baxter got a taste of the frustration that nearly drove his predecessors Gordon Igesund and Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba over the edge.
The gifted midfield player once tried to get out of a World Cup qualifier in Durban in September 2013. He told the team doctor at the time that he had a big Uefa Champions League match coming up in the following week, and that he didn't want to get injured.
Igesund was madder than a wet hen when the team doctor informed him and the erstwhile Bafana coach had the then Ajax Amsterdam player escorted from the team hotel and taken to one next door.
Mashaba also got the same treatment in December 2014 when Serero decided to go gallivanting in Soweto rather than show up at a Bafana camp on the eve of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
But these indiscretions and many others committed by a host of Bafana players went unpunished and Safa should shoulder the blame for allowing brazen misbehaviour to undermine the national team.
Mumble acknowledged responsibility for allowing wrongdoing to get to this point, but he insisted that it was not a crisis.
"I can understand the sentiment and we do not want to fault people for blaming us for not taking stronger action [in the past]," he said. ''And here, there comes a time when we do have to take stronger action.
"But I've also been in football long enough to know that sometimes there are certain things that people don't see that we see."
Mumble said South Africans should understand that Serero's case was different from striker Tokelo Rantie's own disagreement with the national team.
Rantie expressed unhappiness at not being named in Baxter's previous squad that beat Burkina Faso 3-1 at FNB Stadium on October 7 and turned down his recent call-up, saying he "needed space to think about his international career" ahead of the back-to-back matches against Senegal.
The striker had also developed a habit of rubbing Mashaba up the wrong way after thumbing his nose at Bafana call-ups but like Serero, he was never disciplined.
"We wanted to do a disciplinary process with Tokelo Rantie [after he snubbed Bafana call-ups under Mashaba], but the coach [Baxter] said 'listen, let us work with him first'," Mumble said. "So we agreed to let the coaches decide if they could work with him and to see if they can't get a better attitude from him because there are clearly things that we can work with him on.
"He demonstrated regret afterwards but if he continues to do the same thing, then clearly we are also going to act against him."