Thulani Serero will need to do good by all parties concerned following his return to the national team fold for Bafana Bafana’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Hit with a number of long-term and short-term injury woes, everybody was eagerly awaiting Stuart Baxter’s 23-man squad announcement for the all-important clash against The Super Eagles on Saturday 17 November at the FNB Stadium.
With the likes of Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Dean Furman, Bradley Grobler and Sibusiso Vilakazi all sidelined, Baxter’s injury-ravaged side was particularly short-changed in the central-midfield role.
Midfielders: Vincent Pule (Pirates), Lebohang Maboe (Sundowns), Hlompho Kekana (Sundowns), Fortune Makaringe (Maritzburg), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport), Tiyani Mabunda (Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Vitesse), Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates)
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) November 5, 2018
In what can be described as desperate bid to dig out quality, Baxter opted to rope in exiled Vitesse Arnhem midfielder Serero, who grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons as he demanded to be guaranteed a starting berth in South Africa’s two crucial World Cup qualifiers against Senegal last year.
After being denied these somewhat daft demands by coach Baxter, the former Ajax Cape Town and Ajax Amsterdam star was subsequently banned from representing Bafana with South African Football Association CEO Dennis Mumble making a strongly-worded statement blasting Serero and his actions.
Mumble’s sentiments (which were discussed with Baxter) weren’t only aimed at Serero , but more importantly, the ban which was placed on the former Absa Premiership Footballer of the Year was done in a bid to lay down the law on those within the national team, who believe that they are above it in anyway, shape or form.
While, there is no doubting Serero and the vast quality that he possesses when he is on-song (we’ve seen him dazzle against arguably the best team in the world, Barcelona in the Champions League). It’s the matter of principles which rule the roost in a team-related (and ego-charged) discipline like football.
If the decision to ban Serero was done in a bid to set a precedent, what message is his return to the national team sending everybody else? What about those who have been working hard in the wings, patiently waiting for their chance to represent their country?
The decision to recall Serero will certainly not bode well with the likes of May Mahlangu and Tokelo Rantie, who, too have been in loggerheads with the national team.
If Safa and Serero reconciled behind closed door, then the South African public should be made aware of this and it certainly would help the 28-year-old’s case if he publicly apologised for his part in the matter.
Considering that this is not Serero’s first run-in with the law for Bafana, a public apology would go a long way in easing the fears of the Bafana supporters – many of whom are of the opinion that he is arrogant and should not be selected in the future.
Winning over the Bafana supporters again will certainly be no easy task given his prior misdemeanors, but if Serero can allow the football to do the talking, whilst helping Bafana secure their ticket to next year’s continental spectacle then surely he is worthy of a second or third chance?
Likewise with Mahlangu and Rantie. South Africa would greatly benefit from their expertise and services, but everything needs to be by the book.