|THE BOYS, THE BOYS: official Bafana squad picture for AFCON 2015|
taken this morning before they fly to Gabon tomorrow
JUST one last question for the South African Football Association in the wake of Thulani Serero’s controversial omission from Shakes Mashaba’s AFCON 2015 squad: can you explain THIS?
|DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE: SAFA statement, dated 29 December 2014|
Yes, here it is, confirmation that Serero, South Africa’s only Champions League star, was only expected in camp on January 2. It’s all there, word for word. Posted on December 29, 2014. Go check it yourself at http://www.safa.net/index.php?page=articles&id=2645 it says: “Only two players will miss the training camp – Netherlands-based Thulani Serero, who is expected on Friday, 2 January while England-based Dean Furman will be in South Africa two days later (Sunday, 4 January).”
Yet on December 30, when Mashaba named his final 23 for Equatorial Guinea, Serero was AXED for failing to show up and Shakes said “He proved to be not as good as some of the others”.
What utter nonsense. What’s worse is that Mashaba and his SAFA cohorts then briefed the local football journalists on how to annihilate South Africa’s most talented player to protect their unbeaten coach.
The truth is of course, when Mashaba heard Serero was in Soweto before Christmas (he arrived home on December 22 to see family and friends) he “went berserk”, allegedly because Serero was telling people he was an automatic choice for AFCON from the provisional 34-man squad, which contained several players not currently good enough to play for their PSL clubs.
The SAFA statement actually proves that, in fact, Serero WAS an automatic choice, like Doncaster Rovers midfielder Dean Furman. Neither were expected to attend the Boxing Day camp, their places were assured. They had no need to join the camp and prove themselves. Much was made of the fact that overseas-based stars Andile Jali and Tokelo Rantie reported early… but they did so only because they were injured.
For Mashaba to unfairly exclude a foreign player is nothing new. Ten years ago he did the same with established world-class players like Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish and Quinton Fortune and, despite strong results, he was sacked for exactly that in 2003.
Mashaba is clearly going down the same route, stubbornly refusing to accept the demands of playing at the top level in Europe. Or is it something darker?
Much has been made of Dr Irvin Khoza’s recent admission that Bafana coaches have been “influenced by agents” and perhaps Shakes finds himself going down the same path. He picks unknown players represented by local agents but refuses to name proven European stars because their agents refuse to dabble in international selection.
If there is a different conclusion to draw, I am happy to accept it. But this article is an attempt to counter the appalling character assassination in the South African media over the weekend, where Serero was portrayed as “arrogant” and “unpatriotic”. The Sunday Times in particular went to great lengths to justify Mashaba’s questionable decision.
In truth, everyone knows Serero, in his own words “would love to have represented my nation at such a big tournament”. Ajax Amsterdam had written to SAFA requesting a Christmas break for their star and, according to the statement above, it had been granted.
With May Mahlangu banned and Kamahelo “Heavy” Mokotjo disappearing without appearing at the start of the Shakes reign, the Serero case is a further evidence of mismanagement and miscommunication from SAFA and Bafana which robs the nation of our finest talent.
Mashaba may be unbeaten in eight games, and we wish Bafana’s 23 all the luck in the world in their Group of Death later this month… but to my mind, SAFA’s statement PROVES Serero was unfairly dealt with. At the very least he deserves an apology, like the one he got from previous Bafana boss Gordon Igesund.
But we all know that will never happen.