It hardly ever ends well for Bafana Bafana coaches, but the new man in charge, Shakes Mashaba, wants to be different.
By the time he calls time on his coaching career – in let’s say a decade or perhaps beyond that – the 64-year-old coach would like to be remembered for all things good, certainly not as a loser.
Safa president Danny Jordaan may have reiterated that Mashaba is not mandated to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco so that he can focus on building sustainable success, but the coach has indicated he’ll do his best to qualify for the continent’s biggest competition.
Mashaba, who believes he is a much more mature person compared to the last time he was in charge of the senior team, is not the type who will back down from a challenge.
“I have never felt so great in my life. I am very excited. I have been coaching for some time now and this has come at the right time. I am more mature now. I know what is needed and I know what is not needed. I am ready (for this).
“I went to my music archive yesterday (Thursday). I have a record by Rita Coolidge that I often play. In the song she says everyone loves a winner. If you do not win, nobody wants to get close to you. I played it again and again and again,” Mashaba said yesterday when he was officially presented to the media as the new national team coach, less than a month before the Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan in Khartoum.
The last time Bafana qualified for the Afcon was six years ago for the tournament in Ghana and the national team have since adopted the unwanted label of “qualifying for tournaments as hosts”. That could soon be a thing of the past.
“When they say we do not have to qualify, it does not mean that it is alright to lose. We have to deliver. No coach wants to lose. People will remind you you have to win.
“I have a CV to enhance. I heard the president saying there is no pressure, but I know the pressure of winning is there. We will have to work hard. Yes, we do not have time, we know it. Very soon we will be playing our first qualifier in Khartoum (against Sudan) and then return home for the next qualifier in Cape Town (against Nigeria). What we are going to do is select a group of players so that we must not go to Khartoum and come home to select another squad for the game against Nigeria.”
Mashaba – who has been working with the national Under-20 team recently – does not believe he and Safa will get sidetracked and that all the country’s problems in football will all of a sudden be solved if they qualify for the Cup of Nations. South Africa made that mistake before, but the man known as “Bra Shakes” is not short sighted. He is thinking about the long term, too.
“We have to build a team that will give us sustainable results. We don’t want to win today and lose tomorrow. And it should not only be about results, but the way we play as well. We have to start from the grassroots.”
Mashaba is looking to rebuild, but says every player, no matter his age, will get a chance to play for the national team if he deserves wearing the jersey.
“We are not cleaning out. We are trying to revamp here and there. Everybody qualifies to be part of this rebuilding phase.” - Saturday Star