Former Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba has lambasted the SA Football Association (Safa) leadership and gave Ria Ledwaba a shot in her arm by joining her campaign to become Safa president.
Mashaba, among the most successful Bafana coaches and the first boss to take the SA Under-23 team to the first Olympic Games in 2000, attended Ledwaba’s presidential launch in Johannesburg on Tuesday. He was unflinching when he committed to support change and Ledwaba’s candidacy against incumbent Danny Jordaan.
Safa vice-president Ledwaba could not attend the event after she was warned by the national association not to address the media or public until all the candidates were cleared by the governance committee for next month’s Safa election.
Mashaba characteristically did not mince his words as emotions ran high about Ledwaba being blocked from addressing her own campaign launch.
“I think I am one of the staunchest supporters of this campaign. It’s not that we hate some people. No, it is because we have stagnated as a football nation and we are not progressing,” he fumed.
“I mean how does a president [Jordaan] talk to you about football systems when he did not play football? That’s why we are having problems. It tells you something that technicians are being told how to do things.
“Whoever takes over, we want to see a new approach. It is 26 years since we won the Africa Cup of Nations [on home soil in 1996] and we are always going down. If we were at the same level, maybe it would be better.
“Ria knows it all. She once had a football team [Ria Stars] and she understands the terms of football.
“She knows what is happening and what is needed. She listened to what [ex-Banyana Banyana star] Portia Modise was saying about the association.
“You do not deal with people by giving them a cold attitude. Listen to them as well, to what they are saying and as you go along things will be better. It’s good for people to say they need new, young blood. But what would the young people bring, because it is all about experience.
“In the technical committee that supports the coach, you do not need young people. You need people who have seen it all.
“We don’t want to be basking in the glory of 1996. Listen to people’s advice. If you look at the current squad and the coach’s selections, it tells you there are problems in the national team. All the best players in the country are not in the national team.
“People are always saying it is sour grapes because all of us were there at Safa. I expect that from people.
“My answer is that we were never given an opportunity. I am not praising myself but a person like myself, Lucas Radebe or Screamer Tshabalala, Doctor Khumalo should be in the Safa technical committee.”
Mashaba was fired from his third stint as SA coach in 2016 after he directed an outburst on the pitch towards Jordaan after a match in full glare of TV cameras after Bafana’s 2-1 win 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Senegal in Polokwane.
He screamed that “the Safa president did not support me when I needed support during the most trying times”.
The incident embarrassed Jordaan and Mashaba was dismissed.
Mashaba also coached the SA U-20s and U-17s, had two other spells with Bafana in 2001 and 2002 to 2004, and another two stints with the Olympic team.
Modise, ex-Bafana Star Khumalo, Netball SA president Cecilia Molokwane and former Safa CEO Dennis Mumble were among those present at Ledwaba’s launch in Houghton to back her candidacy.