S'Busiso Mseleku

How can Bafana's decline be stopped?

2016-03-30 15:23
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

As to be expected, Twitter went into overdrive even before the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Bafana Bafana and Cameroon, ended.

One of the tweets that caught my eye, read:"I am not disappointed as I had already made an appointment with embarrassment."

And therein lies the rub!

I think we are in a crisis as a nation when we make it a foregone conclusion that our national team is going to disappoint us.

Tuesday night's goalless draw left Bafana Bafana with three points from four matches. Chances of making it to Gabon will now depend on a miracle of huge proportions.

And that's no exaggeration.

With The Indomitable Lions sitting pretty at the summit of Group M with eight points while Bafana are third with three (Mauritania are in second spot have seven), the road ahead looks bleak.

Only Gambia - who held Bafana to a goalless draw here at home - are below our beloved team with two points.

The two remaining matches Gambia away and Mauritania at home, could just be dead rubbers.

Looking at solutions and the way forward, some have said South Africa should use the Olympic Games-bound Under-23s in these two matches.

With one game in June - before the Rio Games - and the last qualifier scheduled for September, I think it would be a good idea to throw the youngsters into the deep end.

Even Shakes Mashaba who has been quite boisterous, conceded in one of the post-match interviews that "the road to Gabon has become darker."

He even mentioned starting on working towards qualification for the 2018 Soccer World Cup that will be held in Russia.

However, just a reminder: When Bafana Bafana bombed out of the first round at the last AFCON finals, Mashaba said his mandate had been to qualify the team for the 2017 AFCON and the 2018 World Cup.

So, is it not time to talk about what happens if he fails to qualify the team for Gabon?

The coach has proven to suffer from serious foot and mouth disease during this tenure.

I was shocked when he announced the players he had called to fill in for those who were injured before the first match against Cameroon last weekend, when he said: "What we are saying is that we look at the big match temperament. But in the absence of the best, at times you have to use the worst."

Well, if I was one of the players called to plug the hole, I would feel very insulted to be called "the worst".

How does that help the players to perform at their best when they know that they are not the best?

This brings us back to a call I have made in the past that most advanced countries have stand-by players for almost all the positions.

These players are not called the "worst".

Mashaba has also resorted to fighting with the media at almost every turn.

On being asked by one journalist: "Do you think your job is safe?", Mashaba retorted: “That’s a silly question. A very silly question. I’ve never come to ... (media house name) and asked about your contract and your job security. I respect that … I respect that.”

These are hallmarks of a man who has lost it. Is he still the man to take Bafana Bafana to the envisaged utopia?

I doubt it!

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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