If the AFCON 2015 qualification campaign is anything to go by, then we can safely assume that Bafana Bafana will be playing a 4-4-2 system. Therefore from a technical perspective, the two central midfield players must be able to play offensively and defensively equally well. Not only when they have the ball.
It is an open secret that Thulani Serero cannot win the ball to save his life. In fact if you look at the central players who Serero would have been competing against, they can all acquit themselves very well in the anchor-role.
To demonstrate my point, imagine the following situation.
We are one nil down in the third game, with 10 min to go and we need a draw to qualify to the second round (touch wood this never happens, but work with me). We get a corner and everybody pushes up. Then the goalkeeper clears the ball and it falls for the opposition. In that situation, would you rather have Letsholonyane, Jali, Manyisa, Sangweni, Zungu or Furman tracking back? Or would you rather have Serero tracking back? Even the most loyal of Thulani Serero fans would be shocked if he chases past the center line. He is just not that type of player.
Bear in mind that this is a tournament, and that once the tournament starts, selection is confined to the registered 23 players. Anything can happen, be it red card or injury, which can require players to be shuffled around. This explain the technical team leaning towards utility players rather than specialists. It is not that Thulani Serero is a bad player, he is just not fit for the system we are using. Hence the statement, that “we felt that there are players who could do better than him.”
Based on the system we are currently playing, one that requires us to stay compact and shift quickly in order to stop the opposition’s offensive transition I can be bold enough to say this. Unless Thulani Serero learns to play even when he does not have the ball, and win possession back more frequently and consistently do not be shocked if you see the Kamohelo Mokotjo’s Bafana Bafana return before we see Serero. Simply because he offers the qualities that the system requires.
The second reason is this. AFCON 2015 is not a strategic objective.
Coach Mashaba speaks of going to the AFCON 2015 to compete; and he should say that because he understands that winning mentality is born out of the spoken word. He must have read McCllelland and Atkinson’s theory on achievement motivation. But he also understands that he is targeted on AFCON 2017 and World Cup 2018 and not AFCON 2015. The evidence is there in his selection.
Just look at the numbers, because they don’t lie. The average age of the team is down from 26.2 in AFCON 2013 to 25.3 in AFCON 2015. And only 8 player in the team were part of the AFCON 2013 side (ref: @YesWeCrann – tnx).
He had the option to select a more senior, more experienced side. But he opted not to do that, he selected a side that will be available to him come AFCON 2017 with freckles of experience. Players like Masango, Vilakazi, Ndulula and Rantie can’t learn much from Serero and Patosi. Serero and Patosi are too young to impart anything. But the young ones will certainly have plenty to learn from Letsholonyane and Parker (both with 50+ cap veterans).
Mashaba’s selection may not meet most people’s expectation, but it is certainly in line with his KPI’s. Serero and Patosi will slot in as Letsholonyane and Parker fall off. Because apparently if you play in Europe, you don’t need to go through a learning curve.
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale