Johannesburg (AFP) – South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba was fired Thursday for insulting top football officials last month, the national association said.

The sacking was expected after heated exchanges between the 66-year-old and South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan following a World Cup qualifier.

Mashaba refused to accept the touchline congratulations of the official when South Africa defeated Senegal 2-1 to become co-leaders of a qualifying group for the 2018 finals in Russia.

Soon after, the coach became embroiled in a slanging match with Jordaan and Dennis Mumble, chief executive of the national association.

Mashaba had been angered by public criticism from Jordaan and Mumble the previous month over the failure of South Africa to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Charges of gross misconduct, gross insubordination and violation of SAFA communication policy were laid against Mashaba.

The former defender with Soweto-based domestic giants Orlando Pirates was found guilty of all charges.

“Due to the seriousness of the coach’s actions, we had to release our head coach with immediate effect,” said Mumble in a statement.

“We shall immediately institute a search for a new head coach familiar with African football competitions.

“(They) will be expected to continue the quest to qualify for the world’s apex football competition (World Cup).

“It is regrettable that we had to face the events of the past month at a time when the national team is experiencing a resurgence in its quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.”

Former South Africa goalkeeper Roger de Sa, who recently quit then struggling Ajax Cape Town, has been mentioned by the media as a possible replacement.

Mozambique-born De Sa guided Pirates into the 2013 CAF Champions League final, which they lost to Al Ahly of Egypt.

Another candidate, if available, would be Mamelodi Sundowns handler and former South Africa striker and coach Pitso Mosimane.

He went one step further than De Sa and steered Sundowns to the CAF Champions League title this year, beating Zamalek of Egypt in the final.

Cape Town City coach Eric Tinkler has also been mentioned in media speculation along with Uganda handler Milutin Sredojevic and unemployed former Dutch star Ruud Krol, who enjoyed success with Pirates.

The Mashaba disciplinary hearings lasted five days amid reports that the coach, reportedly paid 500,000 rand ($36,000, 34,000 euros) a month, was prepared to quit in return for a pay-off. 

SAFA posted an annual loss of 40 million rand this month and wanted to avoid a financial settlement.