Monday, 19 May 2014

Football heaven for a Gooner on the Indian Ocean surrounded by Pirates

There's no point pretending. For me, Saturday by the sea in Durban was footballing heaven in a city where the diski sun doesn't always shine (just ask Golden Arrows).
It started early with the Super Rugby Sharks overcoming New Zealand's Crusaders despite red and yellow cards. An historic win to enthuse the locals, of which I was once one in the distant days of Umlazi's Bush Bucks.
Then to the sold out Moses Mabhida Stadium, where all roads were festooned with black and white.
Playing in a record FOURTH cup final this season, the Buccaneers went behind early but fought back to win 3-1 with Kermit Erasmus, a Nedbank Cup final loser with SuperSport United a year ago, the two goal hero.
Then to Europe where my beloved Arsenal, without a trophy since their penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United in 2005, found themselves 2-0 down to lowly Hull City's Tigers after eight minutes at Wembley.
Santi Cazorla crashed home the first response, Laurent Koscielny forced the game in to extra-time and Aaron Ramsey produced the epic winner to send the Gunners home happy and push me to the top of the twitter trends in distant Johannesburg.
And at the same time, Diego Simeone's unfancied Atletico Madrid held Barcelona 1-1 to clinch La Liga with a Champions League final against city rivals Real to come.
There were cup finals in Scotland, Germany and elsewhere we could mention, but in truth those three epic games concludes a lively season for most football-speaking South Africans.
Arsenal and Atleti will welcome a long-awaited return to ascendancy (as I write this next to the Indian Ocean, Arsene Wenger's trophy drought stands at around 22 hours) but it Dr Irvin Khoza who may be the most relieved man of all.
The controversial owner of our plundering Piratesmust have been wondering what had happened to his double-treble winners over the last couple of seasons.
With all those games in hand after the African Champions League we might have expected something slightly better than fourth in the PSL (they finished third last season) and the return of Vladimir Vermezovic looked like a serious problem.
But what was it VV said when the reached this fourth final? "These boys know how to reach finals, I know how to win them."
That proved more than an idle boast. Adding up those four finals (MTN8, Telkom KO, African Champions League and Nedbank) I reckon the Buccaneers added a cool R20m to their coffers this season.
And with Kaizer Chiefs stumbling when it mattered, a single come-from-behind triumph turned everything around for the Pirates - just like it did for Arsenal and Atletico.
But Simeone's troops still have the Champions League final to come. That's quite a big but. in any language.

1 comment:

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