Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) has denied reports that it was ever considering sacking coach Shakes Mashaba.
According to a report on Soccer Laduma, SAFA had assembled a "panel" that was tasked with considering Mashaba's immediate future.
Mashaba's current contract with SAFA runs until after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, but poor results in AFCON 2017 have left Bafana on the verge of missing qualification for that tournament.
But SAFA confirmed to Sport24 on Friday that the coach's current mandate was to qualify for Russia 2018, and that he had the full backing of the executive committee.
"Never once has anyone at SAFA or any member of the executive committee moved to fire the coach," SAFA head of communications Dominic Chimhavi said.
"We had a very constructive meeting with most of the stakeholders, which included head coach Shakes Mashaba, at SAFA House on Thursday.
"Part of the meeting was to give unqualified support to the coach. He has a mandate to ensure that the team qualifies for Russia 2018. We are not in the culture of chopping and changing coaches."
Chimhavi said he was perplexed as to where the reports came from.
"It’s a very malicious story from unnamed sources which is very unfortunate," he said.
Chimhavi confirmed that qualifying for AFCON 2017 had also been a part of Mashaba's original mandate, and that while qualification seemed highly unlikely, anything could still happen.
"Our qualification for AFCON 2017 is hanging by a thread," he said.
"But we are not in a position to say that we have not qualified yet."
South Africa are currently third in Group M of AFCON qualifying with three points from four matches - five behind Cameroon in first place.
Only the top side from each group is guaranteed qualification, while the two best second-placed sides from the 13 groups also secure qualification.
Mathematically, Bafana can still finish top of their group, but they would have to beat Gambia away and then Mauritania at home and while Cameroon would need to lose to Gambia and draw against Mauritania.