Sunday, 24 February 2013

Killing giants explained: How to produce Roy of the Rovers Cup upsets in THREE EASY STEPS

Pirates plundered: Mashale Rantabane
By an extraordinary stroke of good luck, I can explain to all those tiny teams out there, worldwide, who hope to produce a Roy of the Rovers Cup upset EXACTLY HOW TO ACHIEVE THEIR MIRACLE in three easy steps.

Yes, you’re a bunch of amateurs from, say, Maluti Further Education and Training College in a place called Phuthaditjhaba in an area with mysterious clicks called Qwa Qwa… and you play in the rather modest Free State Second Division.

(Note: Phuthaditjhaba (formerly Witsieshoek, is a seSotho name that means meeting place of the tribes. It is located on the banks of the Elands River. Neither Wayne Rooney nor Steve Pienaar have ever heard of it).

You’re a bunch of amateurs and you’ve been drawn in the FA Cup, Copa de la Ray or even the Nedbank Cup against the all-conquering multi-million conglomerate that has just won your country’s domestic League TWICE in succession.

People wear their replica shirts on every corner of every town, including Phuthadijhaba (or Witsieshoek/Whitey's corner).

Okay, let’s go a step further. Into the realms of impossibility. You’re playing Orlando Pirates, winner of SIX trophies in just two seasons. They haven’t lost in 12 games, they’re top of the Professional Soccer League – or will be if they win their game in hand over Kaizer Chiefs. Oh, and last week, the Buccaneers won their opening game of the African Champions League FIVE NIL!

So how do you beat The Sea Robbers? On my new show SportsTalk which I produce for Talk Radio 702 and Cape Talk 567 every night at 8pm, we spoke to Morena Ramoreboli, who is indeed in charge at Maluti FET College.

When I set him up for the interview with presenter Udo Carelse on Friday, I asked him: What are your chances? It was of course, a trick question. They didn’t have a chance.

To my surprise, rather than the modest and inevitable “we haven’t got a bloody hope”, Morena said: “We have a huge chance to beat them. We have prepared for this.”

With the wry smile of the hard-bitten former Fleet Street journalist, I set him up for his big interview. This is what he said. Word for word. We giggled in the studio. Nice bloke, hasn’t got a hope.

And they went on to win 4-1 against Roger de Sa’s shocked Buccaneers. Yes. 4-1. Against a side expecting a sixth successive clean sheet for Senzo Meyiwa. Against a side with Zimbabwe's TakeSure Chinyama and Zambia's Collins Mbesuma, a team that doesn’t show much concern about not having last year’s title-winning top-scorer Benni McCarthy available.
So in effect, read these words from Mr Ramoreboli.


“I can say I am excited but I am a bit worried about the way we are going to perform tomorrow.
“Obviously there’s a lot at stake and we want to win.

“I am worried. Will the players be at their best tomorrow or what?

“You know last season, we had a dream and we discussed this. But we did not win the League or qualify for Nedbank.

“This season things went according to our plan. To us it was not a miracle, it was not a surprise. We knew this would be our season, that we might play against these bigger teams.

“We have tried our level best to condition our players to do well against Orlando Pirates, physically and mentally.

“We have looked at some videos. What we know about Orlando Pirates, everybody knows. They won’t change their structure of the way they play. They may change players, but not tactics.

“Obviously when you play a big team there are three things you have to take in to consideration.

“ONE you must make sure they don’t play the kind of football THEY want.”

“TWO you must make sure they play each and every ball where you can see it.”

“THREE every time you win the ball you must make sure that you play quickly away from the area you have won the ball from.”

“Then we’ll do well against bigger teams. I’m telling you. That’s football. There are moments in football, and we must treat them very seriously.

“If we don’t have the ball we must switch on and defensive.

“If we have the ball, we must go on and attack.

“To be honest with you, with have some very good players, very young, very talented. We have a good man-marker Mashale Rantabane (he scored twice on Saturday). We won’t have any problem dealing with their top strikers.

“Pirates always congest the midfield, we must always make sure we don’t give them space where they have numbers.

“We have Lucky Mokoena up front (he also scored twice on Saturday). And a young boy, Godfrey Niels. He’s the next Benni McCarthy. I believe he will be that good.

“Obviously we want to win. I will be interviewed today like you are doing now, I won’t be honest if I say I don’t believe I can do well and get what I want.”

I spoke to Morena again after the game. He just laughed: “You didn’t believe me. I told you we could win! I am very excited. We are all excited. If you prepare properly, you can all be winners.”
I’m not arguing. And woe betide the side drawn against Maluti FET College in the next round of the Nedbank Cup. Especially if you’re an AmaKhosi who’s been making fun of the Pirates.

Even Kaizer Chiefs aren’t safe!

This column forms the bulk of my Neal and Pray column in The New Age on Tuesday.


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  3. King Leopold II4 March 2013 at 09:31

    I am King Leopold II.

    I claimed the Congo in the name of Belgium and I chopped off a hand of every 100th slave in order to keep the natives in order.