It was described by the Sports minister, Fikile Mbalula as coming back for a ‘second bite’ when the South African Football Association president, Danny Jordaan, announced that Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba would be the next coach of the men’s national soccer team which is better known as Bafana Bafana.
Born in 1950, Mashaba, who hails from sprawling Soweto is no stranger to South African soccer. He started his soccer career way back with a team called Preston Brothers. He quickly graduated to mainstream teams as he featured in the household teams like Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates. He also played for a team called Swaraj football club.
His coaching career seems to have started in earnest in the early 90s when he coached a team known as Vaal Reef Stars before he started his on and off relationship with the national team before he was appointed the coach of the national under 20 team. This was until 1998 when he was appointed to coach the under 23 team. From this point, it appeared that Shakes was on the roll as he graduated to the senior national team in 2002 after taking the Amajita to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Impressed with his performance, SAFA moved him to coach the senior national team. This was until January, 2004 when, on the eve of the team leaving for the African Cup of Nations, he was fired by SAFA after having been on suspension. He then coached PSL team Black Leopards for a stint before he briefly disappeared from the face of football. He resurfaced in 2008 when he was appointed as the coach of neighboring Swaziland’s national soccer team. Between 2010 and now, Mashaba has been dabbling between the two junior national teams sometimes known as Amajita, which means young men.
When his appointment was announced by Jordaan on Saturday afternoon, he was not in attendance as he was in West Africa with the Under 20 national team which is on tour. His appointment to the senior national team means that he will step down as the coach of the junior teams.
Speaking on ETV, the president of SAFA, Jordaan allayed rumours that they had appointed Mashaba because he was the cheaper option compared to Carlos Queiroz, who was said to have been negotiating for a salary which would have been four times what was being paid to exiting coach, Gordon Ingesund. He said the appointment of Mashaba made the most sense since he has worked with the upcoming players for the national team in the players who have been in the junior national teams. It remains to be seen if Ephraim Mashaba will not be making another unceremonious exit like the one in 2004. At least, in the word of Minister Mbalula, the matter has been laid to rest.