EPHRAIM “Shakes” Mashaba has edged closer to a Bafana Bafana exit after he was hauled over the coals by unimpressed members of the South African Football Association’s (Safa’s) technical committee on Wednesday.
Mashaba was put through the wringer and asked to explain himself after Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Some members of the committee went as far as suggesting that the embattled mentor should do the honourable thing and fall on his sword after an incident-riddled qualifying campaign that fizzled out with a disappointing 1-1 draw against minnows Mauritania two weeks ago.
A committee member told Business Day that they did not hold back in the meeting chaired by Anastasia Tsichlas and Abel Rakoma and the grilling lasted almost the whole day.
That the national team could only manage a third-place finish behind the 104th-ranked Mauritania in the qualifiers — the other teams in the group were Cameroon and Gambia — has upset many at Safa House.
Mashaba was asked to explain how he arrived at the controversial selections that have been a hallmark of his regime over the past few months.
The committee was particularly interested in the criteria he used to select players for the national team. He was also asked to explain why he has continued to snub several Europe-based players who could have helped Bafana during the qualifying campaign.
The continued omission of players such as Kamohelo Mokotjo, Kermit Erasmus and Ayanda Patosi from Bafana did not go down very well with the committee.
The committee member told Business Day that Mashaba defended himself and claimed the lack of a clinical South African-born finisher was the reason Bafana failed to qualify for Gabon.
The beleaguered Bafana coach argued the best attacking talent in the Premier Soccer League hail from other countries and this contributed to his failure to qualify.
He also bemoaned the lack of time to prepare the national team for international matches.
But the committee members were far from convinced and they will forward their recommendations to the Safa executive committee and the matter will be on the agenda at the meeting on September 24.
The Bafana technical committee members are mindful of the conundrum that Safa faces in deciding Mashaba’s future.
Bafana have a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou on October 8.
This tricky encounter will be followed by a challenging qualifier against Senegal to be played at an as yet unannounced South African venue on November 12.
Do they show Mashaba the door in the coming days and then appoint a caretaker or a new coach who will have very little time to prepare the team before next month’s World Cup qualifiers?
Or do they take a risk and allow Mashaba to continue in the job in the hope that the coach will get his act together before the two games?
The committee members are toying with the idea of giving Mashaba an ultimatum, and should he fail to get four points from the two games against Burkina Faso and Senegal his dismissal will be a mere formality.
Members of the Safa executive committee are also upset and there is a strong possibility that they will ask Mashaba to leave regardless what the technical committee recommends.