Safa has doused Mashaba's hopes of leading Bafana Bafana at the Cup of Nations
Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba has been fired by the South African Football Association (Safa) one day before the team leaves for the African Cup of Nations finals.
Assistant coach April 'Styles' Phumo will lead South Africa in Tunisia as Mashaba's replacement, Safa president Molefi Oliphant said on Thursday.
Mashaba had been suspended for the last seven days by Safa for an alleged breach of contract, and his dismissal came in a letter while an urgent interdict against his suspension was continuing at the Johannesburg High Court.
The coach was arguing that he was not given an opportunity to defend himself, but the letter sent by Safa said that Mashaba had failed to make any effort to remedy the reasons for his suspension.
"In light of the failure, your services are hereby cancelled," the letter, which was signed by Safa chief executive officer Albert Mokoena, said.
Mashaba was suspended on 7 January after Safa claimed he had failed to monitor the form of the country's foreign-based players and had selected a Nations Cup squad with players who were injured or who had not played recently.
The body also said Mashaba had failed to promote the association's image, a matter of some importance given that South Africa are one of five African countries bidding to host the 2010 World Cup.
Phumo will now lead the team at the Nations Cup in Tunisia, yet the 63-year-old has an unenviable record of guiding South Africa to a first-ever defeat by Mauritius in his one game in charge.
The assistant manager stepped into the breach for last weekend's Cosafa Castle Cup game following Mashaba's suspension.
Phumo is South African-born but has spent much of life in neighbouring Lesotho, where he was twice coach of the country's national side.
The Bafana Bafana team depart on Friday for a friendly against Senegal in Dakar on Sunday, and the squad will then travel to Tunisia on 19 January.
South Africa, who won the Nations Cup in 1996, will contest Group D at the finals alongside Nigeria, Morocco and newcomers Benin.