Editor's Blog 6.9.2016 10:19 am

Tread warily, Danny Jordaan

President of the South African Football Association (Safa) Danny Jordaan. (Photo: DoC)

President of the South African Football Association (Safa) Danny Jordaan. (Photo: DoC)

Danny Jordaan has, in recent times, seemed a bit of a distant South African Football Association president.

One has to forgive Mr Jordaan, of course – he has been tied up in politics, failing to hold on to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality for the ANC. And then there are those pesky questions over FBI allegations regarding South Africa’s bid for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

But on Friday night, Jordaan was right back in the limelight, openly hammering Bafana Bafana’s performance in their 1-1 draw with Mauritania.

Coming from a Safa president who knows how to play the political game, Jordaan must have known his comments would come across as a direct threat to Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba’s job.

“This must be the end of the journey, not the beginning, because this cannot lead us into the 2018 (World Cup) campaign, where we will play the giants of the African continent. I hope the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Egypt will indicate to us that we have the team and determination, will and guts to win,” Jordaan told SuperSport’s television cameras.

Frankly, it is fair to draw from this the fact that if Bafana flop against Egypt this evening, Mashaba’s days as Bafana coach are numbered.

He could even go before the 2018 World Cup qualifiers start against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou next month. Jordaan has set a public stall out in the name of his association, but it is also a problematic stall.

First, Jordaan could be accused of preaching to the gallery of public opinion, never the best idea when deciding whether or not to keep a coach. This was a populist move, with the general mood in the country quickly turning against the Bafana coach. Second, placing a coach’s career on the result of a friendly match is just silly.

The Nelson Mandela Challenge is a prestigious event, but it is still a friendly. Who knows how seriously Hector Cuper’s Egypt will be taking the encounter? Win or lose, this type of game should have absolutely no say whatsoever in Mashaba’s future.

All of which brings us to a question that needs to be regarded without the bluster and unnecessary showboating that seemed to accompany Jordaan’s words – should Mashaba keep his job? And to this there is no certain answer.

The Bafana coach did qualify the side for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, though they rather fell on their faces in the finals in Equatorial Guinea. And since then it has been mostly downhill.

There was the debacle of Mauritania away, where they failed to check what sort of pitch they would be playing on.

Mashaba, too, is leaning too much on a rhetoric of his side playing well, whatever the result. It reminds me too much of Pitso Mosimane towards the end of his Bafana stint. And yet, would changing the coach really make a difference? Safa has certainly switched enough coaches over the years, with little to show for it.

The reality is we have some talented players in South Africa, but in the continental scheme of things, we are way down the pecking order.

Anyone leading South Africa would find it difficult to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

A new coach would simply be burdened with more unrealistic expectations and would thus be ultimately doomed to fail.

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