The adjectives duly came out on Sunday as South Africa tried to come to terms with Bafana Bafana’s 3-1 loss to Mauritania on Saturday night.
And rightly so, for what transpired at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott was tantamount to treason by all involved. In some countries the entire squad would have been sent directly to an army base for some toughening up.
This is South Africa though and while most of us will lament the defeat, life will go on as usual for the players and the technical team with very little reprimand if any from either the South African Football Association (Safa) or the government.
As it is, they will all be in action at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday and a win in the friendly Nelson Mandela Challenge over Senegal will ensure the disaster of Nouachkott is quickly forgotten.
Here are five things Shakes Mashaba and his boys have hopefully learnt from the defeat.
1. Don’t rotate captaincy
Mashaba probably thinks he is pioneering some new trend by rotating the captain’s armband instead of having one man in the position.
His reasoning that he wants to inculcate a sense of leadership in all his players just isn’t cutting it. And on Saturday there was no semblance of leadership from any of his players – a few of who had been captains before. Instead Dean Furman, replaced by Itumeleng Khune as captain, was never in the game and actually hardly looked interested as he at one stage kicked a clean of fresh air as he missed the ball completely.
Could it be he was sulking from being demoted? The world over every team has a permanent captain and Mashaba must follow suit. It helps settle the squad knowing who is their leader.
2. Research is paramount before any match
Again this is a lesson Mashaba has to learn quickly or continue to send our national team down the drain.
Somewhat stubborn in his ways, the coach has this belief that he can simply prepare his team without worrying about the opposition. “Let them worry about us,” he likes to say. Unless you are Barcelona and can impose your way on any match, it is very impotant to know about your opponents Mkhulu Mashaba.
That the best the technical team knew was that Mauritania narrowly lost 1-0 to Cameroon and had some big losses way before was a recipe for disaster. And so it proved. A little research, for example, would have indicated to Bafana just how dangerous Ahmed Khalil is, the Algeria-based player having starred for the country in the CHAN tournament we hosted. And tapes of those were just a phone call away to the SABC or SuperSport. Embarrassingly they also looked like they had no idea they’d be playing on an astro-turf – now surely someone must be fired for that failure.
3. Don’t give debuts in such crucial matches
Poor Phumlani Ntshangase! No doubt simply pleased to have been called-up, the Bidvest Wits leftback would have been shocked to be told he was starting ahead of Mzikayise Mashaba, the Mamelodi Sundowns fullback who has played for Bafana before.
And the youngster’s nerves were immediately evident as Ismaël Diakite skinned him in the first minute. And it was all downhill from there, when fellow debutant Siyabonga Zulu was sent off for a foul that screamed inexperience, Zulu having allowed the Mauritania player into his inside and thus giving his sight of goal before clumsily pushing him down.
But don’t blame the youngsters for all this. Granted Tsepo Masilela’s no show was a let down, but next in line should have been Mashaba and the coach cannot claim the little knock the Downs man suffered before departure was too bad as he brought him on later.
It’s all good to give players debuts but that has to be properly calculated.
4. Pick PLAYERS on form, not on REPUTATION
There was a moment in the match when the television cameras focused on the Bafana bench and if looks could kill, Ayanda Patosi’s would have sent Mashaba to the grave.
The FC Lokeren player looked perplexed at having come all the way to sit on the bench when players who had only just got clubs got preffered ahead of him. And the fact that they merely huffed and puffed on the pitch, unable to cope with the heat and the pace of the game due to their lack of fitness, must have made Patosi all the more angry.
And there probably would have been many others who felt the same – the likes of Kermit Erasmus who have been playing regularly and with great impact at club level on the international scene only for the coach to stick with what appears his favourites. Mashaba and his technical team need to start being consistent with their selections and not go with players mainly due to previous performances.
5. Only the gutsy succeed in the International game.
Eric Mathoho is locally renowned for being a tough defender. On Saturday night the Chiefs defender was anything but as he twice allowed the opposition to go towards goal without even as trying to attempt a tackle.
But Mathoho’s lack of guts mirrored the entire team’s performance, with none of the players in yellow lifting their hands to be counted as warriors. Bafana looked like they couldn’t wait to get off the field, such was their disinterested showing.
Andile Jali hardly tracked back or forced his way forward as he usually does, there was no creative spark from Thulani Serero and Khune’s eagerness to turn defensive situations into attack proved costly as he allowed an innocuous free kick to beat him such was his rush to release a ball he had not yet got in his gloves.
On such an evening what Bafana needed was a no-nonsense coach who would give them something akin to Sir Alex Ferguson’s hair-dryer treatment at half time. Unfortunately in Mashaba they have a grandfather-type figure who probably caressed their egos if not begged them to go out and try their best.
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