Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ephraim Shakes Mashaba is Bafana Bafana Coach. Hit or Miss?

The SAFA House is occupied by people who take the country, their jobs and the national team very seriously. Black or white, foreign or not, many thought this had no bearing on the choice of the South African national team coach. It mattered a lot. South Africa needed to recapture its football soul and play diski the only we know how.

The previous coach, Gordon Igesund did a very good job for the team after he took over from Pitso Mosimane. Danny Jordaan came to lead the national association that had taken a direction to win now and at all costs. He made it his mission to development structures from the bottom, and to implement a possibly less popular youth policy.
By looking into the future, Jordaan seemed to pull the plug off the reasonably successful tenure of GI. Regardless of who led Bafana at that point in time, they would not add any value to the team and their play. An overhaul seemed harsh but it was necessary. The team could not score goals as the current crop of players lacked basic technique of movement with and without the ball as well as shooting.
Now that Shakes Mashaba is back after a few flirts with the senior team in the last decade, SAFA made a brave functional choice in choosing the current Under-20. After that educated choice, the national association has to close one yawning and serious gap now. They need to forget about the Kaizer Chiefs’ Stuart Baxter and hire Gordon Igesund as the Technical Director of SAFA. Many confuse this post to one connected to the national team.

This post is a FIFA requirement for general football development matters. Merging GI’s experience and progress with Bafana and the new regime of Mashaba’s roadmap, the two will have a common destination. There can never be a better combination, as Mashaba will have nothing to change from GI’s way of playing.
What ESM brings to the team is fresh, younger and motivated set of players who have not tasted too much disappointment or have been called ‘a bunch of losers’. As a national youth team coach, many of the players under his wing already aspire to don the senior team jerseys. The GI mandate should be delivering technically mature players from the grassroots.
In my article regarding development structures, I wondered if there was a system to supply these tournaments with well-coached layers. I questioned support for the players ineligible for the next tournament. A man of GI’s calibre will be wary of that and with the SAFA President’s idea of developing the game from bottom, South Africa’s game is going places.
The results may not be come straight away, but in two to six years, there will be an obvious direction of things. Not that Shakes is the best coach in the country, but his selection speaks volume of the intentions of the organisation. There are ample structures to support the man at the helm. This is the best choice of coach by the National Executive Committee of SAFA.