Sunday, 20 October 2013

FINAL ANALYIS Drawlando: when a criticism becomes a compliment and Roger reaches for De Star

BACK TO RED! Rooi Mahamutsa

SIX months can be a lifetime in football. In half a year, the beautiful game can evolve beyond recognition, particularly in the heart of a throbbing Soweto. The very meaning of words can change, villains are born as heroes fade, African giants are cut down and rendered pointless pygmies.

When champions Orlando Pirates stumbled over the line in third-place after a series of draws at the end of last season, they were gleefully derided as “Drawlando” largely by Kaizer Chiefs fans, relishing their refound double-winning dominance.

This season, after a series of quite miraculous ties, the word “Drawlando” has turned from criticism to compliment. The second-leg draw against Kaizer Chiefs which put the Buccaneers in to the MTN8 final, the desperate final point against Al Ahly which saw them in to the knock-out phase of the African Champions League… and on Saturday night, the epic 1-1 draw which put them past Esperance on away goals.

Incredible. Counting the first leg 0-0 stalemate against the fearsome Tunisians at the Drawlando Stadium and the drawn MTN final which they lost on penalties to Platinum Stars, Pirates have drawn FIVE of their last SEVEN fixtures.

But in that time, Rogério Paulo Cesar De Sá has become simply Roger de Star as the apparently hopeless crusade for a second African Champions League title grinds towards an epic home-and-away conclusion.

The bizarre retirement of Benni “Goalmachine” McCarthy has been forgotten in the wake of Lennox “Bracela” Bacela’s move from Bloemfontein Celtic, the inspirational skipper Lucky “Sinister” Lekgwathi has been supplanted in the space of 90 epic minutes by one Ayanda “Stand-in” Gcaba.

We should mention too, the rise of Senzo “Spotstopper” Meyiwa at No1 after years of Moeneeb “Slimkat” Josephs in a heartbreaking glove story and the rise and rise of Lehlogonolo “Vieira” Masalesa whenever a midfield reinforcement was required.

And most importantly of all, the injured Siya “Ironman” Sangweni finds himself edged out in the defend-and-score stakes by Rooi “Mooi” Mahamutsa, goal-scoring hero of Tunis.

From the bitter hangover of the double-treble slump at the end of last season, Orlando Pirates find themselves two steps (how we wish it was a single final at a neutral venue) from continental domination for the first time since the slowly dimming legends of 1995.

Everything has changed. Reputations, fortunes, buzz words, heroes; they’ve all altered radically in six turbulent months, a period during which, I believe, has been despite the club chairman, no because of.

What was it Roger de Star said before a crusade which has flitted from Comores to Angola and on to a blacked-out DRC, from Egypt twice to the Congo and Tunisia? “"We have been underdogs since the first game we played in this competition, and that is fine, we are good with that, no problem.”

Winning is for sissies. Missed chances are a mere detail only SABC football analysts harp on about. Don’t bet against another two draws to clinch the crown.

And so the the FINAL DETAILS: Pirates play Al Ahly, penalty shoot-out winners over Cameroon's Coton Sport, at Orlando on November 2 in the first leg. And the trophy will be decided in Egypt on November 9.

And if you doubt Pirates can do it against the seven-time winners and reigning champions, try this from Don Mattera, an extract from his poem compiled last year on the 75th anniversary of Buccaneering football:


Drawlando. Shout it: DRAWLANDO! You know it makes sense.

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