PASTRY chef Ephraim ‘‘Shakes" Mashaba might as well make himself comfortable in the kitchen as it seems there is a curiously increasing number of detractors queuing up to be served slices of humble pie.

Mashaba will need to crank up the oven of shame a notch as the national team’s continued successes in the 11 weeks he’s been Bafana Bafana coach have seemingly done very little to stem the continuing distrust in his ability.

The man keeps proving them wrong but much like a beaten boxer who doesn’t know when to quit, they just keep coming back for more.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that he has no shortage of critics and the recently established "We hope Shakes Mashaba fails and is fired" club keeps signing up new members with each passing day. Folks, you would be hard pressed to find a more bizarre occurrence and it makes absolutely no sense.

Consider this: Bafana could secure a ticket to next year’s African Nations Cup in Morocco with two games to spare — at home to Sudan and away to Nigeria — if they beat the Republic of Congo in the continental qualifier in Polokwane tonight.

Victory on Wednesday night would take Bafana to 10 points on the Group A standings and ensure that they could not finish below second place on the table.

Should they pull off the feat as they are expected to, Mashaba would become the first coach to get Bafana to a major international tournament since Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira qualified the national team to the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana. Bafana participated as hosts in the 2010 World Cup, the 2013 African Nations Cup and the 2014 African Nations Championships.

I tell you folks, it’s been truly fascinating watching the doubting Thomases at work and books should be written about the occurrences we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks.

So given how big tonight is and what is at stake, you would think that fellow citizens are all ready to put on the party hats and blow whistles. But alas, things are never that simple in this part of the world.

The cynics are desperately willing Mashaba to fall flat on his face so that they can finally say to the optimists among us: ‘‘We told you so, you misguided numbskulls, this Shakes Mashaba was never fit to be Bafana coach."

I tell you folks, it’s been truly fascinating watching the doubting Thomases at work and books should be written about the occurrences we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks.

First, the cynics threw hissy fits when Mashaba got the job in July and he was labelled a ‘‘cheap option". Then they poked holes at the first squad he selected and predicted doom and gloom ahead the opening African Nations Cup qualifier against Sudan.

Those fires of doubt were extinguished after Bafana beat Sudan 3-0 in Sudan on September 5. But predictably, the well-sharpened knives once again came out after Bafana drew 0-0 with Nigeria in Cape Town a week later. The cynics had whipped themselves into a frenzy by the time Bafana played Congo on Saturday because the man had the temerity to announce 17-year-old Rivaldo Coetzee in his starting 11.

Some worked themselves into such a state on Twitter that I imagined them falling off their chairs and passing out when the referee signalled kick off.

But Rivaldo acquainted himself very well and you guessed it, the naysayers have once again retreated into their little corners. So pray tell, what in the blazes do they hope to see happen here?

Are some fellow holders of green South African ID books so desperate to see Mashaba fail that they have lost complete sight of the revolution that is taking place in the national team right before their eyes? This can’t be right.

The bottom line is Mashaba can shut them all up for good if Bafana qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup tonight.

So fire up that oven Bra Shakes because should your charges do the trick tonight, you will be required to put on that chef’s hat and serve large helpings of your famous humble pie to the long line of people who will be queuing outside your door on Thursday morning.

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