local soccer 6.4.2016 12:34 pm

Hunt baffled at Mokotjo’s decision to snub Bafana

Kamohelo Mokotjo of South Africa. ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Kamohelo Mokotjo of South Africa. ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Gavin Hunt says he finds it strange and sad that midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo has withdrawn himself from selection for Bafana Bafana duty.

Mokotjo’s decision seems to stem from an increasingly fractious relationship with Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, who has publicly criticised the FC Twente midfielder, and who has barely used him in competitive action.

READ: Mokotjo quits Bafana Bafana…for now

Hunt has known Mokotjo from a young age, promoting the midfielder to the SuperSport United academy in 2008. He says that Mokotjo is not a person to make rash decisions.

“I find it very strange,” said Hunt yesterday. “He must be very upset. He was always a very level-headed boy, out of the whole group (at SuperSport) … you could see he would go furthest.

“It is very sad, at this point in time we need all our best players. The guy plays week in, week out, at a much higher level than our league, at a big club.

“Has anybody (from Safa) watched him play? Judging him on training sessions … you can’t judge a guy like that.”

Mashaba has been critical of Mokotjo’s performance in Bafana training, famously calling him “heavy and sluggish” in explaining his reason for leaving him out of the squad for two Afcon 2015 qualifiers against Congo-Brazzaville.

More recently, after the home-and-away matches against Cameroon, Mashaba again pointed to Mokotjo’s performance in training as the reason why he did not play a single second against the Indomitable Lions.

The Cameroon games and their aftermath look to have been the final straw for Mokotjo.

“[Mashaba] clearly has a problem with me,” he told De Telegraaf on Monday.

“It’s really a personal thing. He selected me just to silence the critics. Everyone wants me to play.

“I am one of the highest-rated players in South Africa but he continues to treat me [like this].”

This was followed by yesterday’s lengthy post on Instagram, in which Mokotjo said: “I respect the decisions of the technical team led by coach Shakes Mashaba,” but added: “I hereby wish to notify you all that I will not honour the national team call ups in the near future until circumstances change.”

The South African Football Association (Safa), meanwhile, refused to discuss Mokotjo’s stunning statement.

“We will not comment on stories that have appeared in the media, we need to speak to the individual and take it from there,” Safa’s Head of Communications Dominic Chimhavi told The Citizen yesterday.

READ: Mokotjo slams ‘big mouth’ Bafana coach Mashaba

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