Shakes Mashaba praise for Tiyani Mabunda's work ethic
Posted: 14 November 2016 Time: 17:48
Suspended Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba reserved praise for midfielder Tiyani Mabunda following their victory over Senegal on Saturday.
Mashaba's side fought hard to beat the Lions of Teranga 2-1 in their crucial World Cup qualifier at the Peter Mokaba Stadium over the weekend, before the coach was abruptly suspended for "a regrettable incident" after the game.
However, prior to his suspension, Mashaba explained his decision to field Mabunda in the starting line-up ahead of Hlompho Kekana, despite the former's late arrival in camp as a replacement to the injured Dean Furman.
"If you look at our defense, we were looking for strength for strength, physical fitness as well, to win balls in the air," he explained. "First half we did it very well.
"Tiyani – we've looked at him playing for his team – he's one of the busiest midfielders in the country, and he's good when it comes to defense as well.
"On the day he can also give you numbers going forward. If you looked at him, especially in the second half until he got that [yellow] card, he's one of the people who won so many headers clearing away – no one would have expected him to do that.
"With bringing Hlompho in late, we were trying to say let's start to tire these people first and then we'd want him [Kekana] to go forward and take shots at goal, which unfortunately didn't happen.
"But in defense we were looking at their strong points. We saw [Senegal had] tall players up front, who are strong physically and on the ball, so [putting Mabunda in] is what we did [to deal with their attackers]."
Mashaba also felt it paid off to play goalscorer and man of the match Thulani Serero "as a holding striker" behind Eleazar Rodgers.
"Up front we had Serero playing behind Rodgers as a holding striker... because we knew if we put him flat with [the striker] he was going to be useless," he added.
"He likes coming from deep, going up front and taking people on, and you saw he did very well. Those are the change I'd say that we wanted to make.
"Of course, two things that we banked on was winning the ball, building up from our half and getting into their half, where players like [Mpho] Makola and Serero could take them on.
"Andile [Jali], as well, did some good things when we were attacking and helped us in building through the middle."
With 'Bra Shakes' set to appear in front of the SAFA disciplinary committee, assistant coach Owen Da Gama is set to take charge of their friendly against Mozambique on Tuesday evening.