Bafana enter the unknown

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iol spty sep2 Shakes Gallo Images The Mashaba era begins this week with an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan on Friday in Khartoum. Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba yesterday said he felt insulted by claims suggesting he was a cheap option for Safa.

Mashaba – appointed ahead of a whole host coaches from around the world who expressed an interesting in the job last occupied by Gordon Igesund – slammed the “expensive coaches” who he feels played a big role in the constant decline of South African football.

He may not have mentioned names, but the Brazilian pair of Joel Santana and Carlos Alberto Parreira would have fallen into this category of coaches with the hefty pay cheques.

“Two days after my appointment there was so many horrible things said. The one which really made me feel insulted is the one where they said I was the cheapest coach. Give me the records of all the expensive coaches and put it here. I will repeat. Give me their records. Our football is down because of those expensive coaches. I felt I could not leave this.

“The cheapest coach? I am the longest serving coach, but they’re busy calling me the cheapest coach,” said Mashaba, who was picked for the job ahead of coaches such as Carlos Quieroz, Stephen Keshi and former Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos.

The Mashaba era begins this week with an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan on Friday in Khartoum and despite knowing very little about his opponents and having very little time to prepare for the clash, he’s optimistic his youthful squad can get off to a positive start in the qualifiers.

“There will never be enough time. You can have six weeks or you can have six days, whatever.

“Honestly speaking, I know nothing about Sudan but I know they are a good side and we have to be careful. But we are going to fight. We are not going into these qualifiers as sheep to slaughter.”

Mashaba also said he wants to have a formal meeting with his players first before deciding who his captain will be.

“We have not selected a captain. We will have our first formal meeting with the players and then that’s where we will pick up, based on what they say, how they say it and when they say it, who can lead the team. Being a captain is not about tossing a coin or talking to the referee. We need to have someone who can carry out the instructions, someone who can solve the problems on the pitch and guide the players.”

Bafana right-back Anele Ngcongca, meanwhile, said the team has been inspired by the national Under-20 team, who qualified for the African Youth Championships, to be played in Senegal next year. Amajita beat Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate to book a place in the competition.

“Amajita have given us hope and belief. If they can do it, then we can also do something in the qualifiers. It’s great that coach Shakes has brought in some players from Amajita, so that they can give us the boost we need. It’s not a matter of age. They know what it takes to win the games and they will help us. This is a positive thing for our team,” said the Belgium-based defender.

“We have not qualified for a tournament in a long time and we have been hosting tournaments and I think every player should look at themselves in the mirror and tell themselves that it is time to give it our all for the country. The time for talking is over. We should bring back the joy because the people deserve it. If we do well in the qualifiers, things will be okay.”

Ngcongca stressed the importance of getting a positive result in the first qualifier against Sudan before they host Nigeria next week in Cape Town.

“All the teams in the group are tough. We do not know much about Sudan, but I think we should go there and get some points. We also play against Nigeria and I know them. It’s going to be tough against them, but I think we can do it. The energy from the players is positive and everyone wants to show the coach that they deserve to be here.” - The Star


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