Johannesburg - If Bafana Bafana caretaker coach Owen Da Gama’s utterances are anything to go by, it is clear that there was little harmony in the previous coaching regime.
Da Gama’s comments after Bafana beat Guinea-Bissau last weekend gave a clear signal that he was not singing from the same hymn book as former coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba.
Without saying it openly, it was, however, evident that Da Gama previously felt sidelined.
Behave like professionals
Firstly, Da Gama said that last week was the best week he had so far experienced with the players in the national team.
Secondly, he said players were professionals and disagreed that their cellphones should be confiscated – something that used to happen under Mashaba.
“We allowed them to have cellphones. They are professionals. If they are going to misuse them, they are going to misuse them. But they are professionals – you treat them like professionals and let them behave like professionals,” said Da Gama.
“I think, from the start of the camp, these players are away from their families and their homes, and they are sitting in their rooms the whole day.
“You have got to do something to make them feel good about why they are there, and they are doing this for the country. They sacrifice their family holidays for the country.
“I was a player – maybe some time back – but it is a big sacrifice.”
Thirdly, he said coaches had to visit overseas-based players – Mashaba disagreed with this.
He said he and Mashaba could have better managed overseas-based players during their time together.
Serve us with distinction
“Something that we did not do well in the past, that I feel I am guilty of too, is that we should go out and audit and watch Keagan Dolly playing there [in France]. And watch him train and see how they utilise him so we know how we can fit him in our set-up.
“The same goes for Kermit Erasmus [in France]. We should go and watch these players; we should go speak to their coaches. They should feel that we really want them, and they serve us with distinction.
“As I said, I was part of that. [But now] we should go out and see how they are using Kermit there; how they are using Kamohelo Mokotjo [in the Netherlands]; how they use Lebogang Phiri at Brondby [in Denmark]. We should go and watch how they utilise them.”
But things are changing. Da Gama brought back Erasmus and Mokotjo – who had strained relationships with Mashaba.