Johannesburg - A few Bafana players have failed to live up to Shakes Mashaba’s three core principles – passion, commitment and patriotism.
This has put the coach in a tight corner as he struggles to deal with the enfant terrible in the team, Tokelo Rantie.
Rantie has – for the second time – let down the one person who believes in him.
If there is one person who sacrifices for Rantie to be in the team, it is Mashaba, who has persistently stomached the out-of-sorts striker.
The coach risked his integrity by including the 26-year-old striker in his team, even when he was not playing regularly.
Mashaba has always had faith in Rantie, but he got a kick in the teeth from the player a few days ago.
The coach could not hide his disappointment after Rantie’s no-show in Burkina Faso for the opening 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier.
This was the second time that Rantie had left the team in the lurch.
Last year, he missed the crucial 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia in Durban.
He was getting married on the same weekend, but he failed to report this to the coach and the team, and stayed away of his own accord.
Rantie apparently arrived in the country on Saturday on a SA Football Association (Safa) ticket from his base in Turkey, and was expected to report to camp on Sunday, but failed to do so.
Efforts by team manager Barney Kujane to locate him proved fruitless until Tuesday morning, when he got hold of Rantie via the player’s sister, who told him that he was sleeping in Parys.
After talking to the player, they met in Midrand, where Kujane took Rantie’s passport and asked the player to go straight to camp, which he didn’t do as he “did not have anyone to drive me there”.
Mashaba was at pains to explain what had happened to the 26-year-old striker he had been taking flak for.
Rantie has now shown the coach the middle finger.
“I really feel very let down,” said Mashaba on Saturday.
“I have been telling him that if he can get his act right, he will be one of the best strikers in the country.
“We cannot condone this kind of behaviour because it poses a danger to team spirit.”
It will be interesting to see if any action will be taken against Rantie.
Last year, Safa said it would deal with him, but failed to carry out the threat.
Two years ago, Ayanda Patosi missed his flight from Europe and, as a result, failed to pitch for their opening 2015 Africa Cup of Nations group A qualifier against Sudan.
Safa again failed to discipline the player.
In 2014, May Mahlangu, who was named in Mashaba’s team for the same 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sudan and Nigeria, failed to honour the national call-up, citing fatigue as his reason, although he later denied this.
The association then issued a statement saying the player had been banned from all Bafana Bafana activities.
Safa also threatened to intervene in the matter between Mashaba and FC Twente midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo, who has temporarily retired from international football.
Mokotjo was aggrieved by being sidelined in the recent Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Cameroon.