Shakes, and all hope, is gone

Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba was fired in an unusual fashion this week soon after being suspended for seven days — telephonically.

While Mashaba was still in court battling his suspension, an emergency committee of the South African Football Association (Safa) had already decided to fire the coach due to his failure to bring the South African stars of soccer playing in Europe to the Bafana Bafana fold.

The now former Bafana Bafana coach is expected to walk away with a lucrative sum of money said to be in the region of R2-million.

At the same time he is challenging the termination of his contract, which was due to end in December.

For many who know Shakes, this would not be the way he would have wanted to leave the national team.

Mashaba wanted to see out his contract and this was evident in that he has challenged Safa both on his suspension and axing, believing that because he led the team to qualification for the African Nations Cup in Tunisia, it was his responsibility to see through the tournament.

Mashaba’s time at the helm of Bafana Bafana saw him coach 11 games, of which the team won eight, lost two and drew one. An impressive record, yet it was not enough to convince the Safa hierarchy to keep him on.

Anyone prepared to take on the coaching reins of Bafana Bafana would be crazy to do so now without an exit plan if he should find it too difficult to be handed players instead of picking his own for the World Cup qualifiers.

Safa has once again chosen an inappropriate time to fire a coach, on the eve of a big tournament like the Nations Cup.

Mashaba may not be an angel in this fiasco, but Safa’s timing was all wrong. He is gone if not lost to soccer now, but the problems of country versus club will continue. The soccer authorities have not solved this problem. Instead, they have prolonged it.

There is now definitely no hope of South Africa winning the Nations Cup, firstly due to the ill-preparedness of the team physically and mentally. Only time will tell now how badly this soccer saga affected the players.

Safa, which has appointed Styles Phumo as caretaker coach, now has to find a new coach to lead the national team to qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

While Safa is doing that, South Africa’s 2010 bid company will have to do damage control.

The likes of Danny Jordaan had hoped that South Africa’s achievements in the Nations Cup would be used as part of a trump card to secure the 13 out of 24 votes needed to win the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.

Now these plans have been thrown out of the window and millions need to be spent to promote South Africa’s bid — like the approximately R100-million to bring in Real Madrid, with Barcelona following suit. Couldn’t this money have been spent better on, say, anti-retrovirals?

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