Monday, 24 August 2015

When the beautiful game makes sense: a super Saturday for the PSL... and Orlando Pirates

WONDER GOAL: Siphiwe Tshabalala
THE beautiful game doesn't always make sense. It can be ugly, boring, drab. We long for fantasy football. Saturday in South Africa, it all came good.

Me? I loved every minute. In the morning my son, fulfilling the traditional Collins clan left-back position, helped AmaTuks Under 11s to a Football Association of Pretoria Cup win. Gritty, tough, 1-0 over a rugged bunch from Sunnyside. The chairman of FAP asked me to bring Matthew to provincial training. One of those moments for a dad.

But Matthew plays grim, European football. He wins headers, clears 60 yards and tackles like a tractor. We need him to move on from that, play short, develop his touch, keep possession if he's going to make it in the modern game.

Sometimes South African football fails to make exactly those developments in our youngsters. They turn 25 and they've barely improved since they were 15 playing in a creaking, poorly-run PSL.

A few hours later, at LC De Villiers, after a major braai with the triumphant kids and parents, we saw the boys escort the PSL teams out on to a perfect playing surface, in front of the SABC cameras.

I can’t lie. The first half-hour of AmaTuks v Polokwane City was like watching paint dry. Badly. Poor touch, tactically dour, a bit like watching the U11s… but then up popped a lad called Khethukuthula Zwane. A 29-year-old with no major convictions for ravishing goals, he simply set the game alight.

Two thundering strikes from 30 yards secured a first victory for the Tshwane Clever Boys, who ran out 3-0 winners. Across the city - for some reason the PSL thinks playing two games in the same city on the same day at the same time is a good idea - Mamelodi Sundowns were crushing Bidvest Wits 4-2.

Then came Mpumalanga Black Aces, who held Gordon Igesund’s expensive SuperSport United 1-1. With three Oceanians and two UK returnees on show, Igesund appeared to hold all the aces, but football has a way of levelling the playing field.

Then to the CAF Confederations Cup and a rousing 2-0 win for Orlando Pirates over Leopards, a win which secures a semi-final berth for Eric Tinkler’s Buccaneers with captain Oupa Manyisa finishing things off in style.

And finally a rip-roaring 4-0 win for Kaizer Chiefs over Free State Stars at Soccer City with Siphiwe Tshabalalala providing us with a memory of the 2010 World Cup, unleashing a dipping volley from distance to bring the nation to its feet. We shall not mention the second own goal. It was just too damn good.

Simultaneously, Ajax Cape Town beat Maritzburg United 3-1 to raise the tally of PSL goals to 19 in five games. 21 in 6 if you count Pirates’ continental cruise.

And that’s what it’s all about. Goals. Teko Modise, Shabba and Zwane all produced strikes worthy of a Premier League Goal of the Season video. Pitso Mosimane’s post-match interview was as good as anything Jose Mourinho can come up with. Steve Komphela out-verbalised the pair of them.

And for a glorious seven hours, from the 3pm kick-offs to the final words from Komphela at Soccer City, South Africans were able to sit back and admire their national sport. Blimey, with the NDF kicking off too, and Leopards producing their traditional full house up north, it was dream time. Even AmaZulu won!

Hopefully Bafana Bafana came take us on from here against Mauritania in the upcoming AFCON qualifier. After the dreadful 0-0 home draw against minnows Gambia, Shakes Mashaba needs to give the slave-owning, child-labouring, women-trafficking Mauritanians a good stuffing to maintain this bubble of optimism.

God knows, we have the talent. The fact that none of the big achievers on Saturday - Shabba, Zwane, Cuthbert Malajile or Teko Modise - will be on show is beside the point.

Dean Furman, fresh from his PSL debut with SuperSport, will be there. So too will Itumeleng Khune, who produced an astonishing one-handed save for Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.

We kneel and pray for Shakes and Bafana. Mauritania must be mauled. Nouakchott must be nobbled.

Sure, Sunday saw a return to the usual PSL fare. Jomo Cosmos and Golden Arrows couldn't manage a goal between them and we were treated to both coaches saying they were happy with a point. Bloemfontein Celtic's' 1-1 draw against Platinum Stars was little better.

But here’s a final thought. Normally the pressure in South Africa is on the big three. But Pitso, Komphela and Tinkler spent most of the weekend beaming. Those “little big clubs” Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United are the ones feeling the heat. Igesund and Hunt have spent millions.

It’s very, very early in the season, but for once, the pressure is off at Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.

For a few days… a

1 comment:

  1. Kaizer Chiefs against FSS were doing "the best form of defending is to attack". SK has to be more cleverer than his English because against SSU, Wits, Downs, Pirates they cant be all over the pitch and get away with it. Tshepo n Gaxa just dont care about defending for some reason.