South African national team coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba has been fired by the South African Football Association (SAFA) following what the football authorities in the country are calling ‘gross misconduct and violation of the SAFA communications policy’.
The misconduct took place immediately after Bafana’s historic 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Senegal in Polokwane on November 12.
The win allowed Bafana to share top spot in Group D with Burkina Faso, who are both on four points, ahead of Cape Verde and Senegal, but the victory was marred by the coach’s actions, which earned him an immediate suspension while SAFA decided what to do about the situation.
Reports suggest that he publically argued with SAFA officials in a disrespectful manner following the Senegal match.
The hearing to determine Mashaba’s fate took place in early December and was chaired by an independent legal expert who is an Advocate of the High Court.
The fiery 66-year-old has now been fired, based on findings from his disciplinary hearing, and recommendations made to SAFA about his fitness to remain in charge of Bafana.
According to the national FA, the chairman of the hearing concluded that the coach was guilty of the three charges: ‘Gross Misconduct/Professional Misconduct, Gross Insubordination/Professional Misconduct and Violation of the SAFA Communications Policy’.
‘It is regrettable that we had to face the events of the past month at a time when the national team is experiencing a resurgence in its quest to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup,’ SAFA chief executive Dennis Mumble explained.
‘Due to the seriousness of the coach’s actions, we had to release our head coach with immediate effect. We shall immediately institute a search for a new head coach familiar with African football competition who will be expected to continue the quest to qualify for the world’s apex football competition. We ask all supporters to continue to support Bafana Banana,’ Mumble continued.
Mashaba has courted controversy in charge of Bafana in the past, clashing with administrators on the treatment of certain European-based players who he believed chose their clubs over the national team, including the likes of record Bafana goal-scorer Benni McCarthy.
His assistant Owen Da Gama was in charge of the national team for a 0-0 friendly international draw against Mozambique following Mashaba’s suspension, and may be asked to act as interim coach while a permanent replacement is sought.
The forced change comes at an unfortunate time for Bafana, who have been gaining consistency and confidence, evidenced by their first competitive victory over Senegal last month. But perhaps a new coach needs to come in to steady the ship and focus Bafana on their objectives with players given a clean slate, as a number of national team members have been publically critical of the coach, with some even vowing not to play under his stewardship.