Johannesburg - SAFA president Danny Jordaan has praised Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba for winning the Coach of the Year award at the SA Sports Awards.
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Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba completed a double when was named Coach of the Year at the 2014 South African Sports Awards on Sunday, 30 December in Johannesburg just hours he had guided his squad to a convincing 2-0 victory over Cote d’Ivoire in the 2014 Nelson Mandela Challenge at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Mashaba was flown from the match immediately after receiving his medal in the annual event in Mpumalanga straight to Johannesburg where he beat off the challenge of Swimming South Africa's Graham Hill and Springbok Sevens tactician Neil Powell.
Mashaba was rewarded for leading the South African Under-20 national team, Amajita, to qualifify for the 2015 African Youth Championship which will be played in Senegal, and also turning around the fortunes of Bafana Bafana who qualified for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 where he finished unbeaten and top of the group.
Shakes took over the ailing Bafana Bafana in September and got off to a good start with a 3-0 win over Sudan in Khartoum. After a draw in Cape Town against the then reigning champions Nigeria, he travelled to Congo where he guided his side to 2-0 victory in Pointe Noire, followed by a draw in the reverse fixture in Polokwane.
A win over Sudan in the penultimate qualifier in Durban secured qualification to AFCON 2015, which runs from January 17 to February 08. He then came very close to helping South Africa beat the Super Eagles in Uyo, Nigeria when it ended 2-2 with the hosts equalizing in referee’s optional time.
The result, however, ensured that the African champions were dethroned before even the start of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea as they failed to qualify.
“This has really been a great year for South African football, the Gods of African football are really smiling at us, as Shakes always says,” said Jordaan on safa.net website.
“As an Association we are proud of him as he has brought back the smiles to millions of South Africans who are passionate about Bafana Bafana.
“It seems everything he touches turns to gold because he did the same thing with Bafana Bafana as he did with the U20 squad.
“Our football is clearly heading in the right direction and I want to thank this diligent South African.
“We are glad we made the right choice when we appointed him to lead those two teams.”