Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bafana Bafana hero Siya Sangweni. Nsimbi. Ironman. Has cattle. And a nose for goals.

Seen and herd: Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana hero Siya Sangweni
HE’S the rock. The iron man.  They call Siya Sangweni “Nsimbi” in isiZulu. But we hear so little about the Orlando Pirates 31-year-old who covers captain Bongani Khumalo at the back – and has so far popped up to score TWICE to score vital goals in Bafana Bafana’s African Cup of Nations campaign.

This morning The Star’s Bongani Hans finally gets below the surface of Sangweni, the man we can all thank – Siyabonga – for getting Gordon Igesund’s boys to the quarter-final against Mali on Saturday night.

Sangweni, who scored in the 2-0 win over Angola last Tuesday and crucially levelled in the 2-2 draw against Morocco on Sunday, can been seen and erm… herd two hours north of Durban.

He made a 200km trip from the team’s training camp at the Elangeni Hotel on the beachfront to Dondotha Village in Mpangeni when they were given a day off on Monday.

On page three of The Star this morning, he is pictured with his herd - 34 head of cattle and 56 goats. And it could have been more – last year he gave away some of his beasts as lobola – a traditional African marriage payment - to his in-laws in Witbank.

Herdsman Gonondo Gumede looks after the animals when Sangweni – also known as Nsimbi or Ironman - is away playing football in Soweto. Sangweni gives most of his post-match interviews in Zulu and keeps himself to himself. But he’s no mug. He also has retail and transport businesses grown on his considerable football earnings.

Sangweni, 31, says of his goal against Morocco on Sunday which saw South Africa reach the quarter-finals (they play Mali at 8.30pm at the Moses Mabhida on Sunday night): “I decided to take my chance by leaving the backline unattended. And it worked. I thank God for that.
“There were tears of joy.”

Siya’s younger sister Nqobile told the Star: “After my brother scored the goal, many people came to our home. We immediately organised a braai to celebrate.”

This week on SportsTalk on, Udo Carelse spoke to another goal-scoring centre-back Mark Fish, one of the 1996 African Cup of Nations winners. He said: "Yes, Siya reminds me of me! Not just in this tournament, but when he plays for Orlando Pirates. He gets in the right positions when it matters. That's the vital thing."

Sangweni’s brothers are also making it in football. Mandla, 23, is a goalkeeper for AmaZulu and Thamsanqa, 22, is a midfielder who moved from Golden Arrows to Sundowns last year.

Siya also owns the local football club in Mpangeni – S’yabangena FC.

This blog came from my preparation for Redi Thlabi show on today!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

In Gordon We Trust: two great levellers and a place in the quarter-finals. Hallelujah!

Good Gord: Igesund celebrates a place in the quarter-finals
FOUR months ago, when Gordon Igesund was talking at The New Age Business Breakfast at the Sandton Convention Centre, the conversation started.

On Sunday night, it hit some kind of peak as Bafana Bafana came from behind TWICE to get the point they needed to top Group A and qualify for the quarter-finals against Mali on Saturday night at 8.30pm. After twittering #ingordonwetrust for weeks on end in the face of the army of Bafana Bafana cynics, it finally started to trend.

And last night, as he found a quiet corner at the  Moses Mabhida Stadium during the Mali v DR Congo draw, he told Udo Carelse and I on SPORTSTALK: "That scene at the end there? When we were all gathered in a circle? That was a prayer. We have some good Christian boys in this squad.

"You know me, I've always been positive. And I'm hoping it's rubbing off on the team. I believe we can go a long way in this tournament. There have been a lot of negative comments, but we are positive."

Right from the start, the odds were stacked against the no-nonsense coach from Durban. An opening “friendly” against Brazil, a trip to face Poland just before the European Championship on home soil, the retirement of Steven Pienaar, the tragic death of his assistant Thomas Madigage.

But Igesund battled on. He tried players like Riccardo Nunes, who took all his dead-balls before the Portuguese-South African-Slovenian was bombed out. Like Dino Ndlovu. And whatever happened to the PSL legends Andile Jali and Teko Modise?

Come Saturday night it was all to play for. The final game of AFCON’s Group A, South Africa needing a draw against Morocco. All those weeks of hope and desperation bubbling on the social networks with the media hacks hacking away.

And who could blame them? The pre-tournament friendlies against Norway and Algeria were hardly impressive. The opening clash with Cape Verde saw a third successive game without a goal.

Then the two-goal extravaganza at the Moses Mabhida Stadium gave renewed hope, gave us optimists a glimmer of light.

But when Morocco dominated and scored in the first ten minutes on Sunday night, the lights were going out all over South Africa. We prepared, stoically, for another elimination by the narrowest of margins of home soil, just like the World Cup in 2010.

Our only hope was that little Cape Verde would NOT beat their Portuguese pals in Angola. 
Then, suddenly, at around the 71st minute in both Durban and Port Elizabeth, the world went mad.

I was in the TalkRadio 702 studio with Udo Carelse. Chaos. Our controller Owen Matjie let rip with a few roars right in the middle of a dramatic interview with EP Kings rugby icon Luke Watson. Papers flying, microphones shoved in faces. Were we in? Were we out?

Let me quote the BBC at this point. They describe it as “a night of unrelenting drama” as first May Mahlangu and then the tournament top-scorer Siya Sangweni – a centre-back - equalised for South Africa while the verdant Verdians produced two late goals to win 2-1 against Angola and send Morocco home with three points - and nothing to show for an unbeaten campaign.

In those last twenty minutes, any of the four sides might have gone through – at one point it looked like Morocco would go out on the fact they’d suffered more BOOKINGS than the tiny Cape Verde Islands.

Ultimately, through the tumult, South Africa emerged as Group A winners and they head to their quarter-final at the Moses Mabhida on Saturday with every chance of achieving Igesund’s initial target: a place in the last four of AFCON. Even if they don’t make it, they’ve given a sceptical nation a lift.

As things stand, the path to a repeat of 1996 sees Mali on Saturday, Ivory Coast in the semi-final - also in Durban - on February 6 before a possible final against Ghana on February 10.

Igesund remains apparently unfazed by the huge reaction to his side's unexpected qualification as group leaders. He said: "We had to dig really deep, the lads fought really hard today.

“Itumeleng Khune? Fantastic job, but the whole team did well. It’s a great occasion for the home team and I think we made the country proud."

“We still got work to do, but we’re in the quarter finals now, just two games to go until the final. At the end of the day, I’m proud of my players.”

The final word goes to Gordon. Asked by a journalist: “Do you believe anything is possible?” Igesund responded: “The question is, do you believe?” In Gord we Trust.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Gord Delusion: Bafana's route to the quarter-finals is simpler than it looks

Goalden moments: South Africa waited 316 minutes for last night's goals

Bafana Bafana, fresh from their 2-0 win over Angola last night, face off against Morocco on Sunday in their final Group A clash. The game kicks-off at 7pm, simultaneously with Angola v Cape Verde at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa currently lead the group by two points with a game to go. A win or a draw will see them through but a defeat means qualification is not assured. The two top from each group qualify for the quarter-finals, playing the top two from Group B.

These are the permutations as coach Gordon Igesund goes in to a huge showdown with his supersub Lehonololo Majoro out of Sunday’s game with a gash shin.

1: If we beat Morocco we are through as Group A winners and play in the second quarter-final against the Group B runners-up (Mali, Ghana, DR Congo or, possibly, Niger). That takes place at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on February 2 at 8.30pm.

2: If we draw against Morocco South Africa will qualify, but possibly not as group leaders. These are the possibilities:
a)      If Angola beat Cape Verde, Bafana go through as group winners.
b)      If Angola draw with Cape Verde, Bafana go through as group winners.
c)       If Cape Verde beat Angola by one goal, Bafana go through as group winners.
d)      If Cape Verde beat Angola by two goals, Bafana qualify but the side with most goals scored goes through as group leaders.
e)      If Cape Verde beat Angola by three goals or more, Bafana qualify as group runners up and go to the first quarter-final against the Group B winners at Port Elizabeth, 5pm on February 2.

3: If we lose to Morocco it could get nasty:
a)      If Angola beat Cape Verde, Bafana go through as runners-up on head-to-head result.
b)      If Angola draw with Cape Verde, we go through as runners-up.
c)       If Cape Verde beat Angola, Bafana are OUT.

South Africans worried Cape Verde may produce a “Portuguese handshake” on Sunday should not worry. Angola cannot afford to throw the game. If Angola beat Cape Verde and South Africa get a draw or a win, Angola would go through ahead of Morocco.

As for the rest, here’s the exact wording for what happens if teams end level:

In case of equality of points between two or more teams, at the conclusion of the group matches, the ranking of the teams shall be established according to the following criteria:
72.1.  Greater number of points obtained in the matches between the teams in question;
72.2.  The best goal difference in the matches between the teams in question;
72.3.  Greater number of goals scored in the matches between the teams concerned;
72.4.  Goal difference in all group matches;
72.5. Greatest number of goals scored in all the group matches;
72.6.  Fair Play points system taking into account the number of yellow and red cards;
72.7.  Drawing of lots by CAF Organising Committee

Knowing defeat is unthinkable, Igesund says: “Against Morocco there could be changes because Morocco and Angola are totally different -  different types of players with different styles of play.

“A lot of people will look and say I made changes against Angola because I was panicking but I was not. I took a risk and it had nothing to do with panicking. It was the kind of team I put out to win.

That’s what it’s about, having a team that you believe in that can go and get the job done.
“The reason I took my jacket off was because it was hot out there and of course this is a hot seat, I promise you.

“There were a lot of nerves involved I in the opening 0-0 draw against Cape Verde, but I don’t think the players were as nervous against Angola.

“I want to say to every player, even the guys on the bench, that they stood up to be counted. We were under pressure but I don’t think it was unjustified criticism. We hadn’t been scoring goals and we know how people feel about that. As I said we just need to bounce back and these situations make us stronger.

“We don’t want to get too excited or carried away. It’s only one win.”

SCOTT CANNY, the marketing  manager of who will be on SPORTSTALK on, offers this analysis of the odds on South Africa going all the way to the National Stadium on February 10:

·       Bafana to win AFCON 2013
o   Before Match 1 (17/2)
o   After Match 1 (12/1)
o   After Match 2 (10/1)
·         Bafana were 11/10 to beat Angola last night and 12/1 to win 2-0
·         Bafana are 13/10 to beat Morocco and 21/10 to draw
o   This basically means we have a 40% chance of winning and 30% chance of drawing. So we have a 70% chance of securing qualification without having to worry about the other result!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Could these be the reasons behind Bafana Bafana's slow start at the African Cup of Nations?

Host of a chance: Gordon Igesund's Bafana Bafana

TONIGHT South Africa play Angola in a match which will go a long way to deciding their fate at the African Cup of Nations.

They have two injuries - Kagiso Dikgachoi and Lerato Chabangu - and seriously wounded pride after that yawn-a-minute display against Cape Verde in the AFCON-opening 0-0 draw last Saturday.

The fact that Angola and Morocco also failed to score a goal between them at the National Stadium two hours later means everyone starts from scratch tonight. No goals, one point each, two games to play.

Bafana Bafana kick-off at 5pm. Morocco play Cape Verde at 8pm. After the Proteas snatch defeat from the draw of victory against New Zealand last night near the Big Hole, the nation desperately needs a boost.

If Bafana draw, which is fairly likely given recent displays, I have an awful feeling Angola will beat the volcanic Verdians in their final match on Sunday to qualify with Morocco, clearly the best team in the weakest group.

Tonight we hope for a miracle. That a side unable to score against a young Norway, a pedestrian Algeria and a land of 4,000 square kilometres of lava will be able to produce their first goal in 270 minutes.

Gordon has tried every combination from his front four of Tokelo Rantie, Katlego Mphela, Leohonololo Majoro and Bernard Parker. With Benni McCarthy and Siyabonga Nomvethe both injured, Gordon can hardly be accused of picking the wrong strikers.

I produce SportsTalk on every night now with Udo Carelse. On Monday night we spoke to Gavin Hunt, the tough-talking Sir Alex Ferguson of South African football. He coached SuperSport United to three successive PSL titles around the World Cup and was short-listed for his mate Gordon's job four months ago.

Here's his take: "The Cape Verde game was like watching paint dry. I daren't phone Gordon to find out what's going on. I feel sorry for him. Half the players look like they couldn't be bothered.

"Siphiwe Tshabalala looks like he need a long holiday. On a Mauritian island. With a one-way ticket. He needs a break for football. He's not been at it for a while. And Thusa Phala's okay but he's like a fireman isn't he? Always putting it out."

At first sight, these are simply Gavinisms. But Hunt is not one for the glib. He's right. Bafana have looked a little bit off for a while now. I talked about it with Redi Tlhabi this morning. I explained how much I hope they get it right tonight.

But then I gave her the points below, as a guide to why South Africa's best players just don't seem fired up right now. Here they are. The possible reasons for failure - not excuses, not an off-putting attack on the team. Just the bare facts as I understand them:

1 On December 22, Bafana beat Malawi 3-1 in a friendly which led to the resignation of the Malawian coach. For that the players are supposed to earn R40,000 EACH (figures of NOTHING for a friendly defeat, R20,000 for a draw and R40,000 were revealed to Udo on SportsTalk last night by SAFA communications manager Dominic Chimhavi last night).

2 They were due to be paid that sum (plus a further sum for the preparatory camp before the game) two weeks ago. Last night Chimhavi told us they would be paid ON THURSDAY. AFTER TONIGHT’S GAME. He said: "Don't worry, we pay our employees." But two weeks later and AFTER the big game Dominic?

3 Tonight Bafana play the biggest game of some of their lives. Defeat against Angola will mean another crushing elimination on home soil, just like the World Cup... only worse.

4 According to my source, the players are deeply unhappy about this situation. SAFA announced the team had agreed to play without bonuses “until the latter stages” in fact, they were told there were no bonuses. That a discussion over remuneration will take place “maybe next week”. Dominic insists NO basic sums have been decided yet, even thought the tournament has begun.

5 A few weeks ago the City Press confirmed rumoured fears about SAFA’s finances. City Press reported the national football association have lost R56m in the first four months of the current financial year. They lost over R100m the year before. SAFA’s chief operations officer shrugged it off as “a cash flow problem” and has not returned my requests for an interview. I believe SAFA finances are in an awful state, just two years after hosting a World Cup.

6 I am also told two players were robbed at the Elangeni hotel during the build-up to the Malawi game. No report was filed, the robbery was hushed up because “the hotel is good to SAFA”. The two players involved lost cash, all credit cards, mobile phones and expensive watches amongst other things.

7 SAFA deny this. Dominic, who seems a nice bloke, emphatically said last night on SportsTalk that he was not aware of any robbery. That he had been in the same hotel throughout the Malawi camp before Christmas. But there was one. Ask Thuso Phala. Dominic, like the rest of us, was clearly not informed. Three weeks before AFCON Bafana were ROBBED at a luxury seafront hotel. And the team is staying at the Elangeni as we speak. Is it any wonder the lads aren't looking their best on the park?

It’s tough to motivate a side that is not, in their view, being sufficiently remunerated. Steven Pienaar, the Everton star and our only world class player, ended up out of pocket when he came over to play for Bafana. He retired shortly before this tournament. Others feel the same.

Gordon Igesund is trying to put out a competitive side tonight. He is doing so with one hand tied behind his back. Whether we like it or not, footballers are doing a job. They are not amateurs playing for the love of the game. YES, they care about the shirt, YES, they want to win. But proper payment and reward, as we all know, doesn't half help.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The boot is on the other foot: goalless Gordon finds himself in Pitso's shoes

Remember when: Gordon Igesund celebrating a goal, circa 1872

Suddenly Gordon Igesund finds himself in Pitso Mosimane’s shoes. And they’re not very comfortable. By Wednesday evening, he'll have his own footwear. Question is: will they be flip-flops or stillettos?

The awful goalless draw against Algeria after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Norway’s unwanted youngsters was “very Mosimane” but excusable. A pair of meaningless, friendly slippers.

Gordon reassured the nation: “We are improving. You haven’t seen my best side yet. We are hard to beat and we will score goals,” just a week before Saturday’s big kick-off at the rechristened National Stadium.

Then, like Pitso, Carlos Alberto Parreira and a cast of hundred haplesscoaches before him, Igesund was entirely incapable of raising the game for the opening clash against minnows Cape Verde.

Awful. Embarrassing. Toothless. Boring. And those were the polite verdicts. The government has apparently declared all goals in South Africa “national key points” until the AFCON final at Soccer City on February 10. But that's okay, none of us have seen one in nearly 300 minutes.

Ghana and that famous medic Dr Congo shared four goals between them on Sunday to lift a tournament which started with that record goal drought on Saturday - but that is not enough for soccer-mad fans in the host nation.

Forced to endure traffic jams, ticket scares and bus disappearances in the build-up, what did Gordon offer to console the fans after his side’s drab opening? “My players froze up. We can’t afford to play like that again. The nerves got to them and a lot of players were hiding.

“They are very disappointed but we win together and we lose together. With Angola and Morocco drawing 0-0 too, we are now all on an equal footing in Group A. Let’s see how we can rectify the situation.”

Very Pitso isn’t it? The initial knock-kneed approach has morphed in to a genuine mistrust of the media, and if really thinks those two goalless draws on Saturday are good for Bafana, he’s fooling himself.

The scenario is this: South Africa draw against Angola on Wednesday, Morocco will crush the vocal Verdians. Then we’ll draw against Morocco in the final game – remember Gordon’s words after Algeria “we are becoming difficult to beat” – but Angola will then polish off the volcanic islanders to qualify with Morocco.

And that will leave an unbeaten South Africa waving goodbye to another tournament despite their privileged position as hosts.

Nobody wants that to happen. Gordon least of all. Even Pitso, wiping the smile of his face somewhere in Mamelodi or Chloorkop, doesn’t want that to happen.

Gavin Hunt, the SuperSport United coach who won three successive PSL titles and was short-listed for the hottest seat in South Africa outside of Nkandla, doesn't either.

He appeared on our new show SportsTalk on this week and told presenter Udo Carelse: "I feel sorry for Gordon. Some of his players look like they couldn't be bothered. Siphiwe Tshabalalala needs a long holiday on a Mauritian island. With a one-way ticket. The guy needs a break from football.

"And Thuso Phala is okay. But he's a fireman. He's always putting it out."

Now only victory against Angola tomorrow night offers Gordon the chance of redemption.

And the last flickering flame of hope lies in these words: “We have to move on. We can’t harp on about Saturday. Football is a funny game (many English coaches have resorted to that one over the years) once we score a few goals and get the country buzzing, I believe we can go all the way.”

Wednesday evening, Gordon gets the chance to remove Pitso’s shoes and wear his own. Whether they will come back to kick him up the bottom remains in doubt.

To hear podcasts of our new show go to:

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Revealed: Bradley Grobler and Mabhuti Khanyeza, the first big moves of the South African transfer window

Headed for Tshwane: Bradley Grobler to SupersSport
 Ajax-bound: Mabhuti Khanyeza
SO here they are, the two men at the centre of the first MAJOR transfer of the year.
Mabhuti Khanyeza will leave Gavin Hunt's draw specialists SuperSports United and Bradley Grobler will travel the other way, forsaking troubled Ajax Cape Town for Tshwane.

News of the deal emerged on SportsTalk tonight when Hunt talked to Udo Carelse on Talk Radio 702 and 567CapeTalk. Until then, the bare details were all we had. Grobler, 25, started off life in Boksburg before playing 65 games and scoring 22 goals for Platinum Stars. He then went off to Turkey, scoring six goals. His return to Ajax Cape Town has not gone well as the club struggle in the relegation zone.

Khanyeza is 30, he has played for Golden Arrows, where he scored 37 goals in 112 games. He got 8 in 26 for Kaizer Chiefs but enjoyed his most goal-happy spell in the Mother City with Ajax, where he scored 16 in 24 in 2008-09. Mamelodi Sundowns plucked him from there, but after 57 games and 10 goals, he left for Supersport. A fall-out occured last November, when Hunt had a go about Khanyeza's defending live on television after a 2-2 draw with Chippa United.

Although the rift was smoothed over, Khanyeza has only played five games all season for Matsatsantsa without finding the net.

Who wins in this deal? Grobler has two Bafana caps - one international goal - and is 25. Khanyeza has 10 caps but hasn't scored a goal and is third.

Hunt told us: "There are still details, signing on fees, money paid to various players, stuff like that. But we'll look in to it, get it sorted out.

"We all know Mabhuti should be in double figures by now. He wasn't happy here for whatever reason. And Bradley wasn't getting on well down there. So now we'll make them both happy.
"You know how it is, these things will get done in the end."

Moving on to AFCON, Hunt said: "My last words to Gordon Igesund were: 'Get to the knock-out stages, Gord, we need to keep the interest up! No, seriously, I think he can get out of the group, do well with this Bafana Bafana squad.

"But I do think playing two of the group games in Durban is a mistake. We would have been better off playing all out games in Johannesburg like we did in 1996." 

See also:

TUNE in to from anywhere in the world to listen to SportsTalk, which I now produce on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk with presenter Udo Carelse EVERY NIGHT except Saturday. Monday to Thursday, 8-9pm. Fridays and Sundays, 7-9pm. Call us 011 883 0702 and I'll get you on air!