Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba on Monday hit out at sections of the media whom he believes have launched a personal vendetta against him since his appointment to the senior national post in June.
Mashaba replaced outgoing coach Gordon Igesund and used his opportunity to address the media ahead of Bafana’s trip to Sudan to come out swinging at his detractors.
“I buy newspapers every day, why? I want to hear your critics. They make me strong. If you criticise me because you think you’re breaking me down, you’re wasting your time,” Mashaba said in Johannesburg.
“I take that and convert it into positives. Some of the criticisms we read about in the newspapers are uncalled for, and they seem to be personal.
“But I like them. One day I’ll give those authors a hug and say, ‘you helped me, you made me strong in my life'."
Mashaba was appointed ahead of two other candidates from abroad -- former Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz, now with Iran, and Nigeria’s Stephen Keshi.
According to Mashaba, who had previously coached Bafana in 1992 and 2002, he was left feeling insulted by factions in the media who would have preferred to see a non-South Africa boss.
“It’s not a new thing to me ... I’ve been in this chair. I know what to expect.
“There are serious things, diverting from football. Criticise, but have facts when we criticise.
“Two days after my appointment, there were such horrible [reports]. One had me feeling really insulted … that I was the cheapest coach.”
A major stumbling block in the deal to rope in Queiroz, reportedly, was the Portuguese mentor’s wage demands, prompting Mashaba to point out his credentials, which he felt South Africans should acknowledge.
“All the expensive coaches -- give me their records. Our football is down because of those expensive coaches,” he said.
“This is one [criticism] I felt that I couldn’t leave. The cheapest coach, when I am the longest serving coach in [South African] football, club level or [nationally].
“But people haven’t started realising yet that this is what this man is doing … calling me the cheapest coach.”
Mashaba and his team depart for Khartoum on Wednesday ahead of Friday's kickoff against Sudan in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier for next year’s continental showpiece in Morocco.
South Africa return to the country immediately after the match to take on Nigeria in Cape Town next Wednesday.
Turning matters back to issues on the field, Mashaba admitted the meeting with defending Afcon champions Nigeria was the match giving him the most headaches.
“The second game… that’s our hoodoo team. This Nigeria team is giving us nightmares,” Mashaba said, half jokingly.
“But we’re going to fight, we’re not going into any game as sheep to the slaughter. They’ve given us sleepless nights.”
He did, however, send out a stern warning to the Super Eagles.
“This is one time where they must brace themselves for war up to the fullest.”