Football is my life, says Mashaba the counsellor, teacher
Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba was born in Orlando East, Soweto, and has achieved quite a lot as a football coach.
His achievements include, among others, being the first coach to take a South African junior national team to a world championship.
Mashaba achieved this feat with the national Under-20 side, which qualified for the World Youth Championships in Malaysia in 1997 after losing to hosts Morocco in finals of the African Youth Championships. He then took the national Under-23 team to the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He had previously made his mark with the national men’s team, Bafana Bafana, when he was roped in as stand-in coach after the sacking of Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala, who had been fired after slapping journalist Sy Lerman in October 1992.
During this period Mashaba led Bafana to a 1-0 win over Congo Brazzaville in Pointe-Noire.
And as things stand, Mashaba is on the verge of qualifying the Under-23s for the All Africa Games finals and the London
Olympics next year after rejoining the team in June last year.
“Football is my life as I started playing at the age of 10,” he told City Press this week.
His leadership qualities emerged at the age of 23, when he led Orlando Pirates to four titles as captain in 1973.
“I joined Pirates from Preston Brothers in 1973 after they had won the Champion of Champions title and was soon appointed captain. We then won all the other four titles on offer that year.”
Mashaba later dabbled in coaching at the Buccaneers before crossing over to Swaraj in the mid-1970s in the then
Federation Professional League that was initially for coloured and Indian players.
He later came back to the
National Professional Soccer League, joining Pirates’ bitter
rivals Moroka Swallows in 1980 as captain and player/coach. He led the Dube Butcher Birds to victory in the BP Top 8 title and later lost 3-2 to Pirates in the Mainstay Cup final the same year.
Mashaba’s first taste of the junior national teams came when the late Bra “Stix” Morewa invited him to handle the Under-20 national team.
After his success with the Under-20s he graduated to the position of national Under-23 coach in 1998, replacing Mich D’Avery.“We had a brilliant team that boasted players such as Matthew Booth (defender), Wayne Roberts (goalkeeper), Benni McCarthy and Daniel Matsau (strikers), Ace Mbuthu, Abram Nteo and Thiyekile Gulwa (midfielders),” he reminisced.
The team had a good start at the Olympics, beating a Brazilian team that had a young Ronaldinho 3-1, but then lost both their next two matches and were thus bundled out of the competition.
Mashaba was appointed Bafana coach in 2002 and fulfilled his mandate to qualify the team for the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. However, a fallout between him and the then Safa hierarchy led to him being suspended and eventually dismissed. But he won the case in court and received a settlement.
In 2009 he took over as head coach of Swaziland.
At 61 Mashaba says he would like to move to a “senior position in football administration”. However, the immediate goal for the man who whiles away time by playing snooker, swimming and going to the gym, is to qualify the Under-23s for the two events – the All Africa Games and Olympics.
“I fortunately have a bunch of players who listen, are committed and have the desire to reach the top,” he said. Hence he doesn’t mind playing counsellor, father, teacher and adviser to all players.