Saturday, 29 October 2016

DON'T PANIC. Focus on Mamelodi Sundowns, the champions of Africa. Not the Soweto derby

TURKISH DELIGHT: Komphela and Ertugral
IT didn't take long for the balloon to burst. Less than a week after Mamelodi Sundowns were crowned champions of Africa, we find ourselves asking: just how good is South African football?

From the ultimate high of Masandawana winning the African Champions League 3-1 on aggregate in Egypt, the Soweto Derby six days later brought us down to earth with a bump at a near-full FNB Stadium on Saturday. Bafana's home clash with Senegal may well be the next hammer blow, though we pray for World Cup qualification fervently.

Saturday saw yet another 0-0 Drawby, another display of inept finishing, another 90mins of curious refereeing from Victor Gomes. The giants of the PSL somehow managed to overcome the self-glorifying hype to grind our optimism in to the dust with a series of wayward shots from distance, long balls out of defence, poor touches and terrible tackles.

It got all the razzmatazz of course. While the commentators at SABC and SuperSport didn’t bother to travel to Alexandria for the Champions League final and the touch-screen was switched off, the Soweto Derby got it all.

While Sundowns fans had to wait TWO DAYS to hear from the first South African EVER to win the African Champions League, we had Steve Komphela, Muhsin Etrugral and dozens more talking utter nonsense at length on Saturday evening.

KaboYellow fans might have been confused seeing failed Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim “Shaky” Mashaba talking about “football intelligence” after their side had conquered Africa, while not hearing from Pitso Mosimane. SuperSport made an utter nonsense of the biggest night for South African football in 20 years.

But listening to the commentators (between SuperSport suffering yet another series of broadcast glitches), the analysts, the coaches and the players, you’d have thought the Soweto Derby was a scintillating display of attacking football, far more important than any crusade for continental conquest.

Admittedly there were chances at the FNB Stadium. Early on, Thabo Rakhale had no intention of challenging Itumeleng Khune one-on-one, he prefers showboating. Pule Epstein’s volley just before half-time nearly hit Uranus. And the REAL chance of a goal, when Bernard Morrison was pulled down by Lorenzo Gordinho with 10 minutes left, saw Victor Gomes, for the first time since Jesus was a lad, fail to give a penalty when it looked deserved.

Sizwe Mabena told us “this game had everything” while Komphela and Etrugral announced they were “delighted” with the “passion” while blathering on about a point won rather than 2 points squandered. Neither of them gambled with a second striker, preferring instead to stick to the old Soweto Derby adage: “We cannot lose” rather than “We must win”.

We were treated to a few seconds of Komphela and Etrugral talking Turkish, which probably made more sense than most of what we heard on Saturday afternoon. With temperatures rising to 36 degrees, what did we expect from a 3.30pm kick-off during a heat-wave?

Then we could talk about Sundowns being forced to kick-off at 6pm on their grand return against Polokwane City in the Telkom KO on Thursday. Ridiculous from the PSL and SuperSport. No crowd, no fanfare, no nothing.

But hey, how can I be so negative when the CHAMPIONS OF AFRICA are off to Japan for the World Club Cup next month? Let’s just forget the Soweto Derby. And look forward (hopefully) to Masandawana v Real Madrid in a final which could be worth R80m to Pitso's squad.

And… relax.


  1. Soweto derby has lost its spark.It is high time Mamelodi Sundowns steps in and give us El Kasiko. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have their local rivals but their rivalry is far better than a derby match in Spain. Sundowns has to score goals against one of the Soweto giants and give South Africans a local version of El Classico Soweto derby is overrated. Half century draws in the history of Soweto derby..


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