|OvoNO! Two assists for Pirates goalkeeper|
Unless you support Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs.
In a season barely two games old, the demise of BOTH Soweto Giants in the lucrative MTN8 competition should come as an earth-shaking upset to long-suffering local football watchers.
Sadly, as I have been saying for some time, it’s not much of a surprise. Kaizer Chiefs, though dominant in possession, failed 1-0 against three-month-old Cape Town City while Orlando Pirates were beaten 2-1 by Bidvest Wits despite an early penalty.
In truth, the AmaKhosi and the Buccaneers should be sneering at these small clubs with tiny support bases. Both Soweto clubs still enjoy the R1bn 5-year joint-sponsorship from Vodacom - not to mention the benefits of the Carling Black Label Cup and numerous other sponsors.
But the Khoza-Motaung alliance, now forged in marriage of daughter and son as well as self-serving sponsorship, has failed to bring the expected advantages of monopoly. One glance at the MTN8 semi-final draw shows Sundowns against Chippa United and Wits against Cape Town City over two legs. Shocking.
In theory, Pirates and Chiefs both enjoy huge support, drawing the majority of fans in every city in South Africa, no matter the opposition. Lately those crowds have collapsed, but even with gate income at an all-time low, they should be in massive profit.
Yet still here we are, with both clubs, who finished a disappointing 5th and 7th in the PSL last season, out of the MTN8 at the first hurdle.
For me, the reasons are clear and have been highlighted here repeatedly. Bobby Motaung, the Chiefs “General Manager” refuses to spend his millions on transfer fees, preferring to sniff out free signings and cheap deals with agent Tim Sukazi.
Not much has been said about the way Sukazi’s clients now dominate the Chiefs technical bench too. A few weeks ago, boss Steve Komphela - who said after Friday’s night’s defeat “pressure is a pleasure” - hinted that the public execution of 20 Chiefs players in June and the arrival of 8 cheap replacements and a couple of youth squad members was not exactly how he planned to start his second season at Naturena.
And at Pirates, where three top youngsters were sent to the excellent Dance Malesela's Chippa and a trio of Free State Stars were drafted in during the Panyaza Lesufi/Moroka Swallows fiasco, Muhsin Etrugral (swapped with Eric Tinkler when Mpumalanga Black Aces were deleted) is little better off.
To his credit Etrugral took the blame for Saturday night’s humiliation against Gavin Hunt’s tougher, harder, better Clever Boys. Twice. He said he was at fault for the way the Buccaneers went “backwards, backwards” and he scapegoated himself for the absence of Brighton Mhlongo in goal.
And this is where we come to the real problem. While neither Chiefs nor Pirates appear to have spent much for three transfer windows - R3m for Ghana’s Bernard Morrison from AS Vita appears to be the only fee paid - it’s not just a lack of talent which keeps Soweto’s football in the second class compartment.
What I don’t understand in this: WHY does Komphela, so intelligent, so articulate, continue to start Bernard Parker when clearly the man is a spent force? And WHY did Etrugral take Felipe Ovono, a rare home-born Equatorial Guinea international, off the transfer list and shove him in to the first team?
My question is this: who selects the teams in Soweto? Previous regimes at both clubs claim to have their team list changed in the dressing-room minutes before the game. Both those coaches are now gone. You'd assume with Tebza Moloi and Doc Khumalo now OUT of the dressing room, all this would come to a halt.
But here were are, a week in to the new season, and the bizarre selections - once termed “sinister forces” by the now-dumped Pirate Lucky Lekgwathi - are still with us. Mind-blowingly silly decisions by two coaches under HUGE pressure to perform.
Etrugral clearly knows he has to toe the line in his early days at Parktown. But for Komphela, with one dodgy win over relegated AmaTuks since February, must surely rely on his own instincts at this point.
Or tell us EXACTLY who things work at Kaizer Chiefs before it’s too late.