Two men who have an intimate knowledge of Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba’s work yesterday lauded the South African Football Association (Safa) for re-appointing him as Bafana Bafana coach and called on the soccer fraternity to support him.
Matthew Booth and Kenny Ndlazi, just as Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula intimated at the weekend, believe that with “proper support” there is no-one more qualified than Mashaba to resurrect Bafana’s fortunes.
“Shakes was the right choice,” said Booth, who served as captain of Mashaba’s national Under-20 and Under-23 teams. “We clearly don’t have the depth we need to qualify for top competitions and Shakes is very good at unearthing and developing talent, so I have no doubt he will do well.”
Said Ndlazi, who assisted Mashaba at the Under-23s: “I have no doubt Shakes can do a good job of resurrecting Bafana Bafana. All that he needs is the support of the association and everybody else around him. In terms of getting the players to deliver, Shakes has few equals. He is a very honest man, excellent at player management and very good tactically.”
Mashaba replaces Gordon Igesund who failed to lead Bafana to World Cup qualification as well as not reaching the semi-final of last year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The former Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows captain returns for a second spell at Bafana having coached them from 2002 to 2004. He has been given a contract until 2018 and, while he is expected to lead the squad at the World Cup in Russia in four years time, Safa president Danny Jordaan has urged for patience.
Booth is pleased with this standpoint as he believes a lot still needs to be done if Bafana are to be back in the top echelon of the continent’s football and become regular participants at the World Cup. “Because he was a phenomenal player he immediately gets the respect of players.
He is also a fatherly figure and as half the job of a coach is to get players to play for you, that aspect of his character helps in that regard.
“But Shakes can’t do it alone. When we became the success we did under him it was because there was a solid six-year plan with the backing of Sasol and if we can have something similar I have no doubt Shakes can see to it that Bafana are back at the top again.”
Ndlazi agrees: “My biggest appeal is for a change of mindset by the South African soccer public as a whole. We need to start believing in ourselves and supporting our own. We must all rally behind Shakes if we are to see Bafana succeeding.”
Mashaba is currently on a tour of west Africa with the national Under-20 side who were beaten by Mali at the weekend as part of their preparations for the Africa Youth Championship qualifier against Cameroon.
He will be in charge for that tie before taking over the senior squad where his first assignment will be tough back-to-back Nations Cup qualifiers against Sudan and Nigeria.
He promised, though, that he will “pull out all stops to bring good results”.
And if Booth and Ndlazi’s experience working with Mashaba is anything to go by, happy days could soon be here again for Bafana Bafana. – The Star