his recent rhetoric, under-pressure Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim
"Shakes" Mashaba would not disagree with the laconic sentiment that
"critics are the people who come out of the hills after the battle to
shoot the wounded."
of course, has become something of a wounded man himself and a prime target
after South Africa's painful 3-1 defeat against unheralded Mauritania has left
Bafana perilously close to missing out
on a qualifying place for the 2017 African Nations Cup tournament in Gabon.
consequent 1-0 victory over Senegal in the less-significant Nelson Mandela Challenge game
has diluted the pressure on Mashaba, but far from silenced the sniping of his
respect, in particular, one can sympathise with the Bafana coach over the
criticism heaped in his direction by a substantial complement of members from
the fourth estate, who are now howling for his blood with the intensity of a
hungry pack of wolves.
It was only
a short while ago that many of these self-same critics were praising Mashaba to
the heavens and proclaiming him as the ordained messiah to lead Bafana out of
the land of mediocrity and into the promised land reserved for major and
respected forces in world football.
therefore, Mashaba can be excused for likening his plight to the anguish
suffered in biblical times by Jesus and questioning the patriotism of the horde
who have descended on him from the hills and are calling for his head.
But looking at
the situation in a more rational light, what the Mauritania setback has done is
placed the Bafana situation in a more accurate perspective - neither with the
over-hasty and widespread euphoria that greeted the early successes of
Mashaba's reign or the equally premature call for his head.
What needs to be
accepted whether it is entirely palatable or not is that the underlying malaise
that has left Bafana lingering in 72nd position in the FIFA world rankings and
an unpalatable 17th in Africa despite the country enjoying the best facilities
on the continent, has yet to be addressed.
Mashaba is not at
the root of the trouble despite making a couple of costly miscalculations of
late, like his controversial rotation attitude towards the captaincy issue.
But then, at the
same time, like a host of other coaches before him, he has not solved the
riddle of Bafana's under-achieving either.