Not even national team coach Shakes Mashaba could spoil the Mamelodi Sundowns party by being annoyed that Pitso Mosimane broke protocol in pleading that five of his players be excused from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania, a dead-rubber.
In an ideal world, we would all be looking forward to seeing Bafana in action this Friday and then again four days later in the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Egypt. But they really have not inspired confidence and Mashaba and his men will be watching next year’s continental tournament - to be held in Gabon - on television like the rest of us.
Sundowns, though, have just been a breath of fresh air. And it’s not difficult to see why Mosimane went public with his plea to Mashaba at the weekend. It was all to garner our sympathy, of course. I think it is working like a charm. Not long after the final whistle had sounded in their 3-1 annihilation of Tshwane rivals SuperSport United at Loftus Stadium in the MTN8 quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon, the Sundowns coach delivered an Oscar-winning display in trying to explain why Tebogo Langerman, Thapelo Morena, Hlompho Kekana, Keagan Dolly and Sibusiso Vilakazi should be withdrawn from the Bafana squad.
The Brazilians, the reigning Absa Premiership champions, are yet to open their league campaign because they were away in Nigeria last week occupied with the CAF Champions League. By winning the cup clash on Sunday, Sundowns complicated their fixture schedule even further when they added a two-legged tie against Chippa United in the MTN8 to their domestic league and CAF schedule. A semi-final against Zambia’s ZEZCO United, which will also be played on a home and away format, is already on the cards.
One could argue that Morena and Vilakazi don’t necessarily need the break because they aren’t registered to play in the Champions League and will not endure the energy sapping travelling arrangements if Sundowns go all the way in the competition. But Mosimane was adamant that he needed all his troops available for domestic and continental matches.
“My worry is now on injuries,” Mosimane said. “We hope Bra Shakes will be lenient towards us. It’s a friendly against Egypt and a dead-rubber against Mauritania. Let’s be honest, if you win or don’t win (it doesn’t matter). Gordon (Igesund, who replaced Mosimane as Bafana coach in 2012) also did it.
“He didn’t pick Orlando Pirates players (when the Buccaneers were en route to the Champions League final in 2013). So I hope Bra Shakes will also understand.”
Classic Mosimane this. And he had social media all teary (insert crying emoji) and wishing they could do something to help him carry the burden. Sure, he could have used the proper channels to negotiate the release of his players from the national team given he knows how things work, but we also have to thank him. Not only for the football we have seen the Brazilians dish out, but for helping us long-suffering Bafana fans forget - albeit temporarily - about Friday and Tuesday’s non-events.
It is up to Bra Shakes to do the right thing.
Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@superjourno - The Star
Original source: Sundowns carrying the flag for SA football