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OPINION: SAFA is spot on but…

Posted: 12 November 2014 Time: 11:42

When I heard that SAFA has barred May Mahlangu from being considered for any future Bafana Bafana call-ups, I couldn’t help myself but rejoice, writes Zola Doda.

It’s about time SAFA take a firm stance and ban these tjatjarag prima donnas who think Bafana Bafana is a joke and they can pick and choose which match they want to play. And if SAFA didn’t act as swiftly as they did I would have been the first one to jump up and ask questions. And I’m glad they bloody did.

When we were re-admitted to international football in 1992 we had a club versus country issue to deal with and it became a nightmare as players were forced to choose between club or country. As much as I wanted players to play in every Bafana Bafana match I also felt sorry for them for being in a position of having to choose between a country and their pay masters.

You must remember that back then there was no synchronised international calendar like today; South America had their own international programme and this was the same with other continental federations like Asia, Europe and Africa. International football fixtures were a big mess. Players made sacrifices; those who chose their countries were hailed as patriots but their club careers suffered as they were victimised. Those who chose to play for their clubs were labelled unpatriotic; the whole saga was just a mess.

I remember vividly as well, in January 1997 Mark Fish, who just moved to Lazio in Italy, was called up for the 1998 World Cup qualifying match against Zambia. Bafana and Zambia were going to play on Saturday, 11 January while Lazio had a match the following day. Fish flew all the way from Italy and when he landed in Mzansi, SAFA officials informed him that his call-up was a mistake as he was suspended for the Zambia match. Fish flew back to Italy and fortunately arrived on time ahead of Lazio’s match where he played and scored his first goal in Serie A.

But as Europe was the place where our star players were earning a living, European clubs always had a dirty hand in forcing players to choose whether to play for club or country. And no matter which side the player chose, football was always the loser.

To use a contrasting example to Fish, in February 2001, Benni McCarthy pulled out of the World Cup qualifying match against Malawi as his team Celta Vigo was preparing for a crucial UEFA Cup match against Stuttgart. SAFA then wrote a letter to FIFA and McCarthy was stopped from playing for his club. At the time I was upset by McCarthy’s decision to choose his club over country but I felt sorry for him because why did he find himself in a position where he had to choose in the first place?

But finally, the powers that be at FIFA House in Switzerland finally came to their senses and drafted a synchronised international calendar which would ensure that all the international federations play matches in the same week, hence we have what we call today ‘international weeks’. The synchronised international calendar brought an end (to a certain extent) to the club versus country saga.

Now it seems as if we have another problem coming up, and that problem is called ‘dealing with prima donnas’.

READ: SAFA ban May Mahlangu

It seems as if players nowadays want to choose which match to play and this flies in the face of those who made sacrifices for this national team. In May Mahlangu’s case, it was out of order for him to tell national team coach Shakes Mashaba that he is tired and therefore cannot play. For argument's sake, if he or any Bafana Bafana player is injured, they know the rules. Report to your national team and let the national team doctors assess you and then tell the nation whether you are fit or not. You can’t tell the coach that you are tired and need rest or that you are injured. That is out of order. Let the national team doctors asses you; that is a FIFA rule, not an opinion. And this is what he should have done in case he had a niggling injury. And based on this SAFA were right to ban Mahlangu. I’m 100 percent on SAFA's side in this matter.

READ: Shakes slams 'tired' Mahlangu

But, SAFA must now know that from now on, going forward this is how they must treat every player in the national team. Whether you are Thulani Serero, Anele Ngcongca, Andile Jali or Oupa Manyisa – the same rules should apply to everyone. We can’t afford to have a case of “some animals are more equal than others”. The ban on Mahlangu should set precedent that must be followed regardless of the name of the player or which club he plays for.

And SAFA must still deal with the players who pulled out of the tour to Australia and New Zealand, we didn’t forget about that. The last time I checked an investigation was going on. I’m sure the nation is waiting for the conclusion on that.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZolaDoda

Livefyre comments on this story...

Braveheart de XVI
posted: 2014-11-12 09:50:47

Rejoice? I can rejoice when kick off fires you. What you wrote here is a piece of bulldust Mr Zola. Tell me who does not get tired?

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 09:52:52

manyisa erusmus,tko and matlaba missed the australian tour i suggest they must go as well...

The General IV
posted: 2014-11-12 09:53:20

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict

wa nya...!!

Braveheart de XVI
posted: 2014-11-12 09:53:47

Indeed!!

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 09:54:15

Nebo03 bafana & kaizer chiefs addict remember all animals are the same

The General IV
posted: 2014-11-12 09:54:24

Braveheart de XVI

Nawo futhi .." Uyanya nje"

mamelodi boy
posted: 2014-11-12 09:54:28

useless essay

mamelodi boy
posted: 2014-11-12 09:55:15

kickoff should ban you

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 09:56:00

Nebo03 Braveheart de XVI diego costa opted spain because Brazil only call him when it suits them,guess what he is playing for spain and i guess had may not played for bafana before he would be a regular in the sweedish team 

The General IV
posted: 2014-11-12 09:56:35

Dey should have start with Serero who was not even answering his fone..!!

SAFA, Shakes and Zola are drunk...!!!

SuperMario81
posted: 2014-11-12 09:57:55

Who are you to rejoice on this? You have never been on pitch to have the guts to make such a gusty comment. Why don't you wait to hear the true reason behind him saying he is tired?

Mgugudi Treble Addict
posted: 2014-11-12 09:57:58

@ Zola,

SAFA has hastilly rashed to suspend May, they should have given him time to explain himself. It is this kind of administration that creates problems for our football. Shakes said "he will get to the bottom of this" but did he or SAFA? They jumped the gun in order to appease the likes of you who are rejoicing as we speak.

As much as I respect the comparisons (then & now) you have used, you fail dismally to state that today, the international calender has been alligned in order to avoid what Bennie did as well as the fact that his career was derailed by the same BB from his Ajax days. He had to appease the hand that feeds him as football is a very short career. Furthermore, SAFA was naughtorious for dumping players that were injured on international duty. 

Maybe before getting gay on the news that May like any other "prima donna" has been banned, you should have researched his mitigating circumstance. Should you give such facts, SAFA's decision & Shakes emotional stance as well as your full-of-grudgies heart would be justified.

The General IV
posted: 2014-11-12 09:58:04

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict

just tell me in which player was signed from European club bcos of Bafana? 

KCExcel®SINCE1989™
posted: 2014-11-12 09:58:15

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict Spot on they must go

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 09:58:44

Rob Moore, the business manager of banned midfielder, May Mahlangu, has responded to those criticising him for being anti-Bafana Bafana.

Mahlangu, who recently faced a potential career-ending injury and was forced to miss nine months of playing time, is believed to have favoured a conservative approach to his comeback, prompting him to inform head coach, Shakes Mashaba, that he needed rest after an intensive last six months for IFK Goteborg.

Mahlangu told Mashaba that he was unable to appear for the national team in the upcoming African Cup of Nations, something that angered Mashaba enough that SAFA decided to ban him indefinitely

Moore has now answered his critics, who are claiming that it was he that told the 25-year-old not to appear for his nation, explaining that his players are capable of making their own decisions. 

Speaking to the Siya crew, Moore said, “If I had an (anti-Bafana Bafana) agenda why would I have other players of mine, like Darren Keet and Kermit Erasmus, in the Bafana set-up? When Ayanda (Patosi) failed to arrive for Bafana camp recently I was furious and I told him how unprofessional it was. 

"Go ask Gordon Igesund whether there was ever a problem with any of my national team players - I'm sure he will confirm that I was always willing to assist whenever I was asked. I would do likewise for Shakes, if he ever asked.

"I'm proud when my players play for Bafana, but there are times when a player may have special circumstances that should be respected. May has never done anything in the past to suggest that he is unpatriotic, I challenge one person to show anything to the contrary. By having explained his position to Coach Mashaba last week, May believed that he had done the right thing to give the Coach enough time to name a replacement player.

“I'm not sure if people know that in his second last game for IFK Goteborg, May got a nasty injury that required him being carried off the field on a stretcher, he then played in discomfort during his final match a week later. When the time is right I’m sure that May will give his side of the story and explain his position on this matter.

“For him to start talking now to the media on the eve of two very important national team games, would not be the right thing to do because the team must stay focused on the important job at hand.

Moore also added that another of his clients, Steven Pienaar, was justified in retiring from international football when he did, saying, “With regards to Steven, I was really disappointed when he retired from the national team but I think that since then, it’s obvious to see that he listened to what his body was telling him and he chose the right time to stop playing international football, as he has had a tough time with injuries over the last few years. 

"Players are not machines who can run without mechanical failure for an indefinite time, they are human beings with bodies that suffer wear and tear. If it is to continue to perform at an optimal level, any machine needs to be looked after and be maintained. In the past 16 months, May has gone to hell and back and suffered months when he never even knew if he could ever return to being the player that he once was. So after this intense period following his injury, I believe that he wanted to err on the side of caution, and I was behind May's decision.

”So to crucify May for that, I believe is very unfair - especially when there are five other central midfielders in that squad, including the first choice partnership of Furman and Jali, who have served Bafana well up to now, as well as Manyisa, Yeye and Serero." 

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 10:00:19

Gerry001 bafana & kaizer chiefs addict all animals are the same so let us dance the same tune...i am waiting

SuperMario81
posted: 2014-11-12 10:00:46

May is being made example of. What happened to the players who missed the Australia tour? What happens to Serero who allegedly faked an injury but still turned for his team the very same week?

bafana & kaizer chiefs addict
posted: 2014-11-12 10:01:46

SuperMario81 you can ask that again

Gold Standard
posted: 2014-11-12 10:02:07

Mgugudi Treble Addict but there is no explanation that is needed from mahlangu bcoz he sent a letter to SAFA stating fatigue as his reason not to honour the call up. i think that is an explanation itself.  

SuperMario81
posted: 2014-11-12 10:02:08

You really did cut and paste!

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