Some would say they were only directed at Shakes Mashaba, but Mashaba wasn’t Bafana. He was merely a custodian of the team on behalf of South Africans.
These two didn’t just show him the middle finger but the entire country with their antics, from Erasmus saying that he is no back-up player to Mokotjo’s abrupt resignation, that was followed with him saying he would only revoke it if Mashaba is no longer the coach.
True to his word, Mokotjo honoured the call-up after interim coach Owen da Gama named him in the squad to take on Guinea-Bissau on Saturday and Angola on Tuesday.
The pair’s inclusion in that squad was surprising because it meant either Da Gama sat in silence even though he disagreed with Mashaba on their exclusion, or worse that he didn’t select the team but is just merely a face of people who desperately wanted to get rid of Mashaba.
Whatever the true reason is, it doesn’t leave a good impression on Da Gama as his own man.
The sad thing about Mashaba’s fiery temper is that most of the blame on the breakdown of his relationship with certain players is solely put on him.
May Mahlangu says that he is too tired to play for Bafana, Mashaba doesn’t call him up again and Safa slaps him with a life ban – it’s Mashaba’s fault.
Thulani Serero doesn’t pitch up for camp just before the Africa Cup of Nations, nor does he bother to explain why, even though he was in the country.
Mashaba drops him, it’s the coach’s fault.
Erasmus says he is no back-up player, despite having reached double digits only once in a season in his career as a striker – it’s Mashaba’s fault when he isn’t called up ever again.
Mokotjo throws a tantrum because he isn’t picked, retires from Bafana and yes, you guess it, it’s Mashaba’s fault.
Surely these players should also take some of the blame for putting themselves in these positions. One of the biggest problems with football is that players hardly take the blame.
It’s always the coach’s fault, even in situations where cliques conspire to get a coach fired. They then suddenly become a good team all over again after his departure and no one asks them, where was this before the last coach was fired?
Granted, Mashaba didn’t cover himself in glory with his outbursts and utterances. That should never be defended. But if Mashaba can be punished for how he acted off the field and what he said to his bosses, surely the same should apply to the players.
Just like Mashaba tarnished the image of Bafana with his outbursts, these players’ actions went beyond showing their frustration at the former Bafana coach, and insulted the fans.
The first step to them coming back to the national team should have included them apologising to the fans. This creates an impression that they are above reproach and they can do as they please.
Erasmus has been unapologetic in his interviews on his return to the national team.
The problem though is that Safa, the custodians of the national team on behalf of South Africans, don’t cover themselves in glory with their antics, nor have they mastered the art of apologising when they are at fault.
It has taken more than three months for them to find Mashaba’s replacement, and they didn’t bother to find out Mokotjo’s situation after he took up Netherlands citizenship before calling him up.
When this matter was raised with them, they didn’t admit to their mistake, but accused the media of creating something out of nothing.
No one has owned up to that oversight, and I can bet my non-existent fortune that no one will.
You remember the Mbombela dance of shame, where we celebrated qualification that never was? Heads didn’t roll for those who didn’t read the rules nor was there any apology for disgracing the country.
Safa just said they would challenge CAF on the matter before dropping it once they realised that they didn’t have a case.
Admitting when you’re wrong, owning up to that mistake and taking steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future is an admirable act.