Mashaba was fired in November 2016 with Stuart Baxter taking over as the coach. Under Baxter, Bafana played five World Cup qualifiers, winning one and losing four as they finished bottom of their group. Vilakazi was also in Baxter’s team that failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
“I don’t know what happened between ‘Bra Shakes’ and SAFA,” Vilakazi tells KickOff.com. “But my thoughts are, if it’s not an on-the-field problem, they were going to deal with it when the qualifiers are finished. I thought that was a mistake that SAFA made; I thought they were going to deal with the problem in a different way.
“We didn’t perform well in the qualifiers because of the changing of coaches. That plays a psychological part in the players. As much as we know that players are there to work and must not worry about who is there and who is isn’t, having a coaching change means something is wrong. Changing of coaches plays a part, that was a crucial thing that happened. It means they have their own issues we don’t know about and I don’t want to know what they are. That was a crucial part that turned things around. After that it was a bit of crisis,” reasons the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder.
Next year, Bafana Bafana will resume their 2019 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign and Vilakazi believes there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“That is history now. What we need to look at is how can we improve from where we are now and move forward. That is crucial. What I learned in life is, it’s not about how you fall but you rise. Now the question is, how do we rise from this? How do we move forward and soldier on? It’s not about what happened before. We can’t change it. Let’s move forward.”
By Zola Doda