Cape Town - Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba is on a mission to get his players more in touch with their supporters.
A relaxed and happy Mashaba walked through Canal Walk shopping mall in Cape Town on Tuesday -- together with the players and his technical team -- stopping regularly for photos and to sign autographs, in an attempt to get closer to their adoring fans.
“Those who were not there missed out on a good atmosphere," Mashaba said after the team’s final training session at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday night.
“We’re trying to teach our players to respect the fans. Understand them, go close to them, talk to them and hear what is actually happening and what is it that they want.”
Bafana take on Nigeria in their second 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Wednesday night, hoping for a repeat of last week’s dominant 3-0 win over Sudan in Khartoum.
Midfielder, Dean Furman, was spotted sharing a giggle with one of the mall’s cleaning staff, swapping roles for a moment as he took over the mop and posed for pictures. He was smiling and laughing as the wide-eyed cleaning lady looked on in amazement.
Here is a tweet from that moment:
Mashaba said it was exactly those sorts of interactions which made the players aware of the admiration their supporters had for them.
“If you don’t go there, you won’t know all those things. That is why we took the players and let them go and mingle with people. Some of them didn’t know how popular they are and they never knew how many people followed them,” Mashaba, who was the standout favourite among the throngs of people at Canal Walk, said.
“We took the players there to rub shoulders with the people and to listen to people’s needs. Let’s hope it paid dividends.”