Johannesburg - On November 12, Bafana Bafana did what many doubted could be achieved.
A 2-1 win over the powerful Senegalese team in Polokwane boosted the team’s confidence in believing that nothing could stop them from realising their Russia 2018 dream.
But, as we now know, 10 months later, the Stuart Baxter-led national team’s prospect of qualifying for the World Cup next year have significantly diminished after suffering back-to-back losses to Cape Verde away and at home.
And world football governing body Fifa has rubbed salt into the nation’s wounds by ordering that the game against Senegal be replayed after the corrupt practices of the referee – who has been banned for life from the game – were exposed.
If the appeal fails (which it must to show such practices cannot be condoned), it means Bafana will have only one point.
We are positioned at the bottom with four points, while Burkina Faso tops the log with six points.
The dissolution of Bafana’s momentum can be traced back to that eventful and memorable game in Polokwane.
Coach Shakes Mashaba’s biggest undoing – which led to his dismissal – was that he had earlier been caught on camera wagging his finger at officials.
Mashaba’s actions were unprofessional and downright disrespectful to his employers.
But did these actions warrant his firing?
A different solution to Mashaba’s actions would have been found had the SA Football Association’s (Safa’s) head honchos, led by president and mayor-turned-opposition councillor Danny Jordaan, had the interests of the team and the nation at heart. (The same Jordaan who turned his back on politics to return to the game.)
But their egos were so big that they would rather interrupt the national team’s rhythm and confidence by going after the man.
And go after him they did.
It is from those actions that the nation now suffers as Russia looks a distance too far for the national team.
And yet Jordaan and his executive are still in office and would not take responsibility for their decision to axe Mashaba, which distracted the team’s focus while Baxter – who had to build his own team – was installed.
After the Russia World Cup, our football leaders will battle it out to retain their positions at Safa next year, but none of them will take responsibility for the decisions that they made in the boardroom that affected how Bafana Bafana performed on the pitch.
After all, it is easier to remove the coaches – something we’ve done with great passion in the recent past.
Lubisi is City Press executive editor
Follow me on Twitter @DumisaneLubisi