Sunday, 5 April 2015

CLOUT OF AFRICA: Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs crash out: two very different tales, one conclusion

Good night South Africa: Pitso Mosimane in DRC yesterday
And so the South African dream of Champions League progress has stuttered to a halt AGAIN. And the questions will be asked AGAIN. And the truth will be avoided AGAIN.

As PSL leaders Kaizer Chiefs and our defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns crashed out at Raja Casablanca in Morocco and TP Mazembe in the DRC, the sound of collective groans could be heard around Mzanzi as our precious diski folded under pressure once more.

The SuperSport commentators suggested from the off in Morocco that everything was against Kaizer Chiefs. It wasn’t. The AmaKhosi were the better side in both legs. They just can’t score goals. With no live television coverage again from Lumbumbashi, similar sentiments were echoed as Sundowns were crushed.

For Patrice Motsepe’s millionaires it was always going to be Mission Improbable. Pitso Mosimane said before the game: “If the officials do their job, we are through,” sadly that was never going to happen. A 3-2 aggregate defeat ensued.

After the 1-0 home win in Tshwane – which included a red card for the visitors – Masandawana found themselves 3-0 down after 57 minutes against TP Mazembe. And it was all they could do to produce a late consolation from Percy Tau against a side unbeaten in their domestic league after six games and just a point behind the leaders.

For Chiefs it was a slightly different version of the same sad tale. Beaten 1-0 in Durban in the first leg, they came up against a side currently in crisis. Raja Casablanca have lost their last two and are 12 points adrift of their city rivals in Morocco’s domestic league. But it made no difference.

Morgan Gould, mysteriously booked early on, was off injured after 43 goalless minutes and on came Tower Mathoho, mysteriously dropped from the starting line-up amidst a strong campaign so far.

Up front Golden Boot holder Bernard Parker – who has already been overtaken by New Zealander Jeremy Brockie in the PSL goal-scoring stakes this season – laboured next to the eternally risky Matty Rusike.

We can mention two moments: George Lebese’s glaring miss when through on goal early in the second-half and Gaxa’s ridiculous attempt to control a throat-high ball in his own box which led to the Raja goal. But that’s not the point. They were the better side and lost 3-0 on aggregate.

The usual excuses are already being wheeled out, but Roger De Sa – the coach who guided Orlando Pirates to the African Champions League final two short years ago – will tell you South Africa is continually fighting an uphill battle in CAF competitions.

While we invite our northern rivals to plush hotels with good facilities, PSL clubs travel north filled with trepidation for the away leg. While we struggle to pull crowds of 7000 at home, the African giants fill their stadia for every Champions League clash.

In truth, the truth we never dare tell, South Africa football – though shiny on the outside – is just not at the races. Our marketing is criminally negligent, the sponsorship money goes to pockets rather than development and foreign players are booed at every opportunity. Further north, they revere great players regardless of passport, they pump money in to the club, they establish academies, proper transfers and sharp agents are at work, regardless of whether their cut is 3 percent or 10.

In REAL football nations, the coaches work with football directors and club owners to create an outfit capable of continental domination – they don’t stand open-mouthed when a new signing appears, injured and unknown.

If AFCON 2015 and it’s meagre one-point haul wasn’t enough to wake us up, then the failure of BOTH our African Champions League hopefuls at the first hurdle has to be an alarm bell. Surely it’s time for change. At all levels.

It's not just the Champions League embarrassment is it, SAFA? We have match-fixing allegations STILL unsolved, we have a R350m FIFA World Cup legacy fund STILL missing; The much-hyped Senzo Meyiwa statue STILL not evident; the Technical Director STILL nameless.

Yes, I'm ranting. Because nothing is done. When Irvin Khoza tells SAFA how to deal with "intermediaries" we are left with a game that has no hope. No His own club, Orlando Pirates, has no visible academy while we hype  junior tournament run by a man arrested at last year's World Cup.

Khoza is the one who issued a decree saying agents can no longer claim more than 3 percent for deals, but his club relies on agents not scouts for new players. No other FA in the world made such decisions in the light of the new FIFA recommendations on "intermediaries"... now only the second-rate agents, who do dodgy deals with clubs and scalp players, will survive.

Danny Jordaan, no longer the new president, issues statements designed to please, but that's as far as it goes. There has been no real progress. All Danny has managed so far is to get Shakes Mashaba to pick our European-based stars after that disastrous AFCON, and even then Kamohelo Mokotjo flew back to FC Twente having sat on the bench for the entire 90 minutes against Nigeria last week.

These aren't just my complaints. I speak to coaches, players, agents. All are in agreement. The Champions League debacle follows on from the AFCON failure; the need for a decent striker permeates South African football. How about a "Search for a Scorer" reality TV show? How about employing Robbie Fowler or Michael Owen to come to South Africa and run goal-scoring sessions?

But no. We'll stick to Q innovation and an Asidlali boasting elderly has-beens; we'll put Owen Da Gama and Thabo Senong in charge of our youngsters despite questionable qualifications.

We'll let the small PSL clubs fall apart while the giants rake in the cash and refuse to splash out. We'll let PSL attendances fall below an average of 6,000 for the first time but keep the figures quiet, hoping nobody will notice.

And we'll let a couple of agents anonymously keep out fire coaches on the merry-go-round, ignoring the need for qualifications and quality CVs. Middendorp in, Middendrop out; Rosslee up, Rosslee down. It's a joke.

But the football writers will pat each other on the back. Choose their targets and favourites according to their particular biases. Back the status quo. Defend the Iron Duck, Bobby and Danny. And we'll never be a footballing nation. Never.


  1. Neal, every time you write an article, I feel like you are my speaker. Thank you again for this rant. It's exactly what I have deep down me

  2. Mr Collins, you are spot on!!!!