Tuesday, 24 February 2015

MARCH 7: THE SOWETO DERBY LOOMS Chiefs are no longer unbeaten and Pirates have a Major headache

SEEING RED: Majoro's colleagues step in to calm the situation
THERE will be many major debates before PSL leaders Kaizer Chiefs face arch-rivals Orlando Pirates at Soccer City on March 7. But no pre-Soweto Derby argument is as important as the Majoro debate.

With their unbeaten run halted by SuperSport United last Tuesday night, Stuart Baxter will be relieved to see his side crush minnows Edu Sport 4-0 in the Nedbank Cup on Saturday with Siphelele Mthembu scoring a hat-trick of headers and Hendrick Eckstein an instant hit after coming on as a substitute.

Orlando Pirates did much the same thing to Tornado FC in the Nedbank Cup last week, conjuring an emphatic 4-0 win as expected with all the big guns drawn at home (what were the odds?) for the opening round.

Chiefs, bruised by the 2-0 defeat inflicted by Gordon Igesund’s tough guys, have got to go to Botswana at the weekend with the far-too-narrow 2-1 lead over Gaborone’s Township Rollers to defend. The Buccaneers have got Polokwane City in the PSL.

Then, on March 4, Chiefs have got Ajax Cape Town and Pirates are at Free State Stars with the demolition derby looming.

By then we should have a clearer picture of how things are panning out for South Africa’s big two. Can the Chiefs runaway train get back on track? Will Itumeleng Khune be fit after what he described as a “minor injury” sustained when colliding with his own defender Morgan Gould on Saturday? Will Killer Mphela be fit to start?

And in the black-and-white corner will Kermit Erasmus be forgiven by caretaker coach Eric Tinkler for his tantrum after being substituted against Tornado? Will Brighton Mhlongo keep his place in goal?

But perhaps the most intriguing question of all surrounds former Chiefs striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, the man Stuart Baxter used to call “The Major”.

Majoro left Chiefs for SuperSport United – they even announced it on their website – before agent Tim Sukazi saw his carefully laid plans scuppered by Pirates, who swooped for the former AmaZulu striker amid threats of legal action.

Majoro, though not selected by Bafana Bafana for AFCON 2015, is probably the most lethal striker in South Africa. Particularly when he is in tandem with Erasmus.

But there is one nagging problem. After scoring against Platinum Stars on February 16, Majoro lost it. Out of the blue, in the 62nd minute, he deliberately shoved his boot in to the floored body of Dikwena’s Mahlatsi Makudubela. A deliberate, blatant stamp.

Rightly red carded for his violent conduct, Majoro then blew his top and had to be wrestled off the pitch by his team-mates, with Siya Sangweni deserving credit for keeping his pal away from REAL trouble.

Tinkler said at the time: “I didn’t clearly see what Majoro did, but I watched the footage on TV. I’m very disappointed with his behaviour but after the game he came back to the pitch and apologise to his team-mates and the opposition team.

“It’s good that he came to his senses and realise his mistake but as a technical team we are still going to assess the matter and see a way forward. But his behaviour was really uncalled for.”

On twitter, @ballojoro apologised to his team-mates, the opposition and football generally for his behaviour. He also said THIS on the club's website:

“I know what I did was wrong. I acted out of anger and lost sight of what was important, which is my teammates and the Orlando Pirates brand. The referee acted accordingly because I deserved the red card and I would like to apologise to the Orlando Pirates supporters and the entire football fraternity for my actions. I’m better than that, and they deserve better than that; I promise not to do it again.

“I especially want to extend my apology to my colleague Mahlatse. As professional footballers we should treat each other with respect and always set an example. I went to apologise to him immediately after the match because I realised the error of my ways and I had to tell him man to man that I was wrong.”

Which is all well and good. But in Europe, a red card of this nature merits a further disciplinary hearing. The stamp constitutes “violent conduct” and an automatic three-match ban. The tantrum after his red card constitutes “bringing the game in to disrepute” and further action. A disciplinary hearing would be mandatory.

Yet we have heard nothing from the South African Football Association, despite repeated queries. Majoro is currently serving the routine two-match ban, having missed the Tornado game with Polokwane City and Free State Stars to come.

But with the Soweto Derby around the corner, surely Majoro’s situation must be looked at? Has SAFA’s displinary committee even looked at the incident? Can we allow such behaviour to go unpunished?

I guess the answer to that has to be YES. The apology was great but it cannot hide the loss of control. There should be a hearing. I just hope it doesn’t depend on which team you play for.

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