CAPE TOWN.22.08.14.Bafana coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba at a press conference in the Civic centre about the details of the upcoming Afcon qualifer match between the national team and Nigeria. Picture Ian Landsberg

Shakes Mashaba will do well to avoid fights with the media. After all he has much bigger battles ahead of him as he strives to turn Bafana into the continental giants they once were.

While Mashaba’s Monday outbursts – about him feeling insulted by insinuations he got the job because he was the ‘cheaper option’ for Safa – were perhaps understandable, the senior national team coach better learn quickly that opinions will always be there – be they right or wrong. And surely he’s not going to start every press conference by responding to the ‘critics’.

A coach as highly-experienced as he is must know it is best to do his talking through results on the pitch.

As he leaves for Sudan for an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match that marks the beginning of his second term in charge of the squad, Bra Shakes would have done well to make his team aware of the big challenge they’ll be up against in Khartoum.

Gamesmanship is part and parcel of the continental game and Mashaba no doubt know this. And they’re pretty good at it in Sudan as Orlando Pirates once discovered during a Champions League tie against Al Hilal back in 2006.

In Kosta Papic’s last match for the Buccaneers, the Serbian coach found himself at his wits end trying to get his team ready for their match.

First Pirates were given a sub-standard training pitch that could easily have seen a player break an ankle.

If that was not enough, it took over half-an-hour for the Buccaneers to convince some amateur team they found playing on the ground to make way for them.

No sooner had they started training than their opponents were arriving, Pirates’ allotted time to use the pitch already up – most of it having been eaten up by arguments with the amateurs they found there.

On match-day, when they arrived at the stadium, Pirates struggled to get into the dressing room as the passage leading up to it was turned into a mini-mosque by men bent down in prayer.

Things got worse after kick-off, with the referee seemingly carrying an Al Hilal supporters card – so atrocious were his decisions.

One of those saw him award the home side a goal in spite of the ball having gotten nowhere near the goalline during a melee in the box.

Such is the nature of the game on the continent. And with CAF continuing to turn a blind eye to the pathetic treatment meted out on visiting teams the continent over, Mashaba will be best served exerting his energies on toughening up his players. After all South African players are renowned for their softness, most of them not strong enough to deal with the hard conditions on the continent. - The Star