Sunday, 28 August 2016

SOLVED: THE SOWETO GIANT-KILLINGS... why Pirates and Chiefs will go no further in the MTN8

OvoNO! Two assists for Pirates goalkeeper
FROM a poorly attended mid-week start to the PSL to the fascinating MTN8... and straight to an international break. Not the best way to start the South African football season but hey, it's been absorbing.

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?

Parker, as I said repeatedly on twitter, had no impact in Cape Town. He was whisked off at half-time to general acclaim from the on-line AmaKhosi. Ovono was trending on the social networks for inadvertently assisting in both Wits goals.

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.


  1. Maybe we expected a little too much. Both teams didn't do well last season, finishing fifth and seventh on the log was a sign of a narrowing gap between the so called big teams and the minnows.

    Saying Chiefs lost to a three month old team is totally wrong. That team finished above the Mighty Amakhosi last season. Relocation of a team doesn't mean the rebirth of a team.

    Eric Tinkler has never lost a match against Kaizer Chiefs as coach.

    Muhsin Etrugal has dug his own grave, Ovono was on a transfer list but he is now the number one goalie. Last season he handed Daine Klate a goal on a silver platter and this season also, Golden Arrows got a goal against Pirates due to his blunders. Bidvest Wits is through to the next round of the MTN8 because of his butter hands.

    Football agents, Club management and brow envelopes.

    There is a story behind this column. "Changing of team sheets, few minutes before the game."?

  2. I clearly no longer find any humour in the performance of our beloved soweto teams as they have now gone from average to poor .We as supporters are support both clubs historic exploits such as any other community member who supports the ANC but lives in PE.its heart breaking but all we can do is stay away and hope things change or watch the EPL.

  3. There are no longer powerhouses of football.

    Even the so called big teams in the English Premier League (EPL) have fumbled last season and watched new comers, Leicester City, marching all the way to league victory.

    The Soweto giants didn't do well last season. They didn't break their banks either when they lure new players to their teams. Vilakazi is the biggest signing this season. Sundowns broke their bank to beef their well balanced squad. Chiefs is a bit shaky at the back and doesn't have a lethal striker.

    Is the Soweto derby still worth it?