Sunday, 28 July 2013

THE PSL KICKS OFF ON FRIDAY: Benni says it's Chiefs, but does he know what's been happening out there?!

Too many Chiefs: Amakhozi celebrations after
the Carling Cup win on Saturday
SO according to the Benni McCarthy, Kaizers Chiefs are going to win the PSL, Bernard Parker will be the season’s top scorer and Itumeleng Khune is ear-marked for player of the year.

Which is all very well – though slightly annoying if you’re a fan of his former club Orlando Pirates – given Kaizer Chiefs utterly meaningless Carling Cup win at a packed Soccer City on Saturday.

Of course, the Amakhosi have the bragging rights after Lehlohonolo Majoro’s off-side goal separated the two sides in the gimmicky Soweto derby for profiteers - but as an indicator of the season ahead, as we say in England, it’s utter bollocks.

Under-pressure Pirates coach Roger de Sa is attempting to shave 8kg off Collins Mbesuma while simultaneously bedding in his new signings, Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter himself admits: “It was heaven and hell… they had us under pressure.”

So do we make Chiefs favourites to retain their title given McCarthy's views in today's Sunday Times? Possibly. But let’s remember Benni has barely been back in the country since his sudden retirement at the end of last season. The fact that he quit without actually telling the Buccaneers despite their R6m-a-year salary is beside the point.

McCarthy has spent his time in Spain and England, he has no idea how the new-look PSL is shaping up. Though nobody doubts his footballing talent, it’s hard to take his current predictions too seriously.

For a start, Bernard Parker failed to win the golden boot last season despite a four-goal start at AmaZulu last year. This year Knowledge Musona takes over from McCarthy as the nation’s best-paid player, on a year’s loan at the AmaKhosi from German also-rans Hoffenheim.

With Benni’s old club enlisting the services of Celtic’s Lennox Bacela and SuperSport United’s Kemit Erasmus, I don’t expect to see Parker among the top five this season .

Stuart Baxter is likely to use him wide and deeper with Musona and Majoro carrying the bulk of the goal-scoring burden.

As for the title race, I’ve seen most of the new-look squads in action – yesterday I sat with new Wits coach Gavin Hunt watching Amatuks giving Australian tourists Perth Glory a 2-0 tonking.

Gavin said: “Steve Barker’s done it again. Found some good youngsters, made them efficient. They’ll be hard to beat again this year.”

On Saturday I watched Gavin’s Wits, with eight new players, win a mini-tournament at Milpark, ending on top of Steve Komphela’s Free States Stars, Golden Arrows and Platinum Stars.

I had a chat with new Dikwena boss Allan Freeze, who admitted: “We haven’t signed anybody really, we’ve lost Thuso Phala but we’ll be okay. We finished runners-up last season, we can reach the top four again this season.”

Mamelodi Sundowns have made their usual army of signings and enjoyed a strong tour of Ghana, Amazulu under Craig Rosslee may be a tough prospect but Ajax Cape Town will have to rely on new recruits from their substantial academy to survive after losing a host of stars.

Promoted NFD champions Polokwane City remain a mystery to most, Martitzburg United have grabbed Ghana's Mohammed Yakubu - who survived just 30 minutes under Roger de Sa at Orlando Pirates - but are unlikely to threaten the top four.

But amid conversations on my BOLLOCKZ show on Ballz radio, Hunt, Freeze, new SuperSport boss Cavin Johnson, Swallows coach Zeca Marques and of course, the big two, Roger and Stuart, I have to say the surprise package could be promoted Mpumalanga Aces under the ageless Clive Barker.

Clive, cheerfully 68, told me on BOLLOCKZ last week: “The wife told me not to tell you we’ll win the league at the first attempt! But I can say we have good directors at Aces, we’ve made some great signings and we could be a handful!”

The Dog reckons he’s signed 12 players rather than the widely publicised 16. When I asked Hunt how many he’d acquired (live on air) he said: “I’ve got absolutely no f***ing idea!”

The point is this: When the PSL kicks off on Friday with Aces up against last season’s double winners Kaizer Chiefs, it’s an all-new situation.

Just as in England, where the top three clubs are all under new management, much has changed since Benni McCarthy retired.

And I’d keep an eye on Wits, if I were the Soweto giants. Hunt has Zimbabwean veteran Benjani up front (“I’ll use him sparingly, keep his legs!”), the experienced Matthew Booth at centre-back, the energetic Matthew Pattison in midfield and Moeneeb Josephs in goal.

Hunt laughs: “I’ve never actually had Moeneeb before. He’s amazing. So bloody enthusiastic – and absolutely radio rental! I love him already.”

Chiefs and Pirates beware. Platinum Stars nearly did it last season – the Clever Boys will be up and at it this term.

The opening round:
02/08    Mpumalanga Aces      20:00     Kaizer Chiefs
03/08    Golden Arrows           15:00     Ajax Cape Town
03/08    Moroka Swallows       15:00     University of Pretoria
03/08    SuperSport United       20:15     Free State Stars
03/08    Maritzburg United        20:15     Polokwane City
04/08    Bloemfontein Celtic      15:00     Mamelodi Sundowns
04/08    Platinum Stars              15:00     Bidvest Wits

BOLLOCKZ! my show on, airs every Thursday from 10am-noon. 

You can also follow me on for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & Pray” column every Tuesday A shorter version of THIS story will be published in The New Age on Tuesday.

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tlou Segolela "95% certain to play for Orlando Pirates on Saturday" says agent Tim Sukazi, who blames "political hazards" for delay over new deal

TLOU SEGOLELA’S agent Tim Sukazi is “95 percent sure” his man will play for Orlando Pirates in the Carling Cup against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.

Sukazi insists “political hazards” are all that stands between Segolela and a new contract. And he feels “Socks” might have made the difference in the Buccaneers’ opening African Champions League clash with Leopards last Saturday.

“Gautrain” Segolela, 25, scored five goals for Pirates last season – but started only seven games, coming on as an “impact substitute” 16 times. Since he signed for the Sea Robbers from Limpopo’s Seemole FC in 2007, every season has been much the same – apart from 2009 when he was on loan at Celtic and scored seven times.

With “Socks” voted in by the fans for Saturday’s sell-out Soweto derby at Soccer City, Sukazi said: “We live on hope right now. We really hope he will play on Saturday, we made some real progress in our meetings with Pirates yesterday.”

New signing Kermit Erasmus is on stand-by to start but Sukazi insists: “There is a 95 percent chance Tlou will play on Saturday but last week it was unfortunate he was left out against Leopards because he hadn’t signed.

“When you look at the result and reflect on that Leopards match (it ended 0-0 against the Congo champions, though Pirates were comfortably stronger), if they had Tlou they might have three points in the bank. They would be top of Group A in the African Champions League.

“Tlou is in tip-top condition. I think Roger de Sa will give you a hint along those lines. He had him in the starting eleven for the Leopards game.

“There is no problem in training, Tlou has been at Orlando Pirates for several years, we want him to continue and flourish there.

“The hold-up has been about regular game time. This is a player who is very talented, has got what it takes, now he has to sign a new contract at the same club.

“We want the new deal to have a playing element. We are doing our best. We should win on this one.

“You are right Neal, in South Africa there shouldn’t be guarantees that a player MUST play, the stars can lose form, only at training can you see that. To play a player EVERY WEEK? It becomes an impossible thing to do. I’m not advocating that.

“But at Pirates we are well aware Tlou didn’t play as much as he should have because of his ability, but due to “political hazards” as I call them.

“That where we were trying to write something in to the new contract.”

I asked Sukazi if now departed playing rivals Benni McCarthy, Takesure Chinyama or even coach Roger de Sa were “political hazards” last season, or if rumoured demands of FOUR TIMES his previous wage were the problem, but he insisted: “It’s not about money, obviously in every commercial deal, money is a primary consideration it doesn’t matter which space you are operating in.

“We have to eradicate the so-called “political hazards” and unfortunately they were not contractually covered. We have to address a situation where Tlou is sitting watching games from his couch when he is better than the players on the field.

“It’s not the players. It’s more to do with the structure than the playing field. The way things were operating, it wasn’t about Tlou’s ability, he just wants more game time to deliver.

“He watched from the grandstand for a long time last season, then in the game against TP Mazembe towards the end of the season he played and never looked back. And then came two goals for Bafana against Lesotho.

“Prior to those goals in Maseru there were no signs Pirates wanted to sign a new contract. Then they were interested. But we don’t want to get caught out in the same situation again. I don’t want Tlou to sit for three more years in a situation where he isn’t playing regularly."

Though Tim was reluctant to name those "political hazards", Pirates are one of several PSL clubs reliant on a host of "football advisors" rather than coaches when it comes to contracts and signings.

It appears Segolela languished on the bench - or on his couch - for weeks last season because these shadowy figures - with no great footballing backgrounds - back one player over another on the basis of who signed them.

Those "political hazards" were particularly rife at Platinum Stars before Cavin Johnson took over and are known to have been at work at Sundowns when Johan Neeskens was in charge.

Sukazi insists: “Hopefully we have sorted this issue. No more “political hazards”, Tlou has a great chance of playing on Saturday. Of getting that contract signed. A 95 percent chance.”

Tim was a guest on BOLLOCKZ! my show on, which happens every Thursday from 10am-noon. We also spoke to Wits coach Gordon Hunt, Mpumalanga boss Clive Barker and Bongani Khumalo's representative Glyn Binkin. Those interviews will appear here later.

You can also follow me on for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & Pray” column every Tuesday A shorter version of THIS story will be published in The New Age tomorrow too.

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BOLLOCKZ! Glyn Binkin on Bongani Khumalo's future, his fighting spirit, his talent - and Siya Sangweni's role in the AFCON failure

GLYN BINKIN has finally lifted the lid on Bongani Khumalo’s future in football – revealing he has no great pull to return to South Africa as “he has no family left here.”

Binkin also defended his player’s role at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year – pointing to centre-back partner Siya Sangweni’s role in the Bafana team that failed on penalties to reach the semi-finals on 
home soil earlier this year.

We spent two hours in the Ballz visual radio studio yesterday, discussing several of Binkin’s men – Morgan Gould and Mabhuti Khenyeza amongst them – but Khumalo’s situation is fascinating.

Binkin is understandably peeved about former Bafana captain Khumalo’s loan move to Championship side Ipswich falling through when Tottenham Hotspur changed their wage demands and insisted on being able to recall the Swaziland-born centre-back in January.

Binkin, who represents many of South Africa’s top footballers at home and abroad through “The Players' Club”, said: “Bongani’s been at Spurs for two and a half years now. He went on loan to Preston North End in 2011 on emergency loan and did really well until he broke a bone in his ankle.

“Then he went to Reading, started off okay, but after six or seven games, he lost his place and was unlucky. In January 2012 he went back to Spurs, even there he was training and playing in the reserves with Sandro, Cudicini, Kyle Walker.

“He was performing at a high level. Then he went on loan to PAOK in Greece. He only missed one game before AFCON where he captained South Africa.

“But while he was away, PAOK signed two permanent central defenders. He came back and found he had lost his place. But he’s always been a fighter, he upped his game.

“He was patient, he got back in the team and ended up playing 25 games in a League rated higher than Norway, Sweden and Denmark. They won the Champions League qualifying play-offs and was in unbelievable form.

“He came back to South Africa and went to train with Ipswich, played in a game on day three and did particularly well. Then he played another. He impressed. But when it came to talks with Spurs, the initial offer was declined. Spurs went back for more money, Ipswich agreed.

“But then Spurs insisted on a clause which said they could recall Bongani in January. Ipswich then had the opportunity to sign a centre-back permanently. The deal fell through.

“I don’t understand why Spurs did that. Now the first team are in Hong Kong, the development squad are in Portugal and Bongani is training on his own in London.

“Bongani’s always been a fighter. His life has been hard, people don’t realise that. His father – a linguistics professor at UNISA – is dead. His mother, a teacher, has also passed away. He is an only child. He has no family here.

“When Bongani was 15, he was scouted at a youth tournament in Ireland by Manchester United but his mother insisted he stay in South Africa and finish his schooling.

“He did that. Now he has this fight on his hands. There is no family reason to stay in South Africa. He could play here are earn good money with the big clubs in the PSL, but he wants to make it in Europe.

“I believe he has the ability and the fighting spirit to be the next Lucas Radebe, the next Mark Fish. A major defensive talent in Europe. There are a lot of similarities with Lucas. He struggled for a long time but he finally got the break at Leeds and now he’s a legend.

“Bongani is not going to give up. He will make sacrifices. He will forge a career in Europe.”

I asked Binkin if he thought Khumalo got a fair crack of the whip after he was lampooned for his “model C accent” while captaining South Africa during AFCON.

Binkin replied: “I don’t believe he had a bad tournament. He didn’t ask to be captain. It was an honour, he’d captained SuperSport to the title. Unfortunately he became a scapegoat.

“There were a lot of dynamics in that team that didn’t work in his favour. I have the ultimate respect for Siya Sangweni, he’s a fantastic player.

“But at the end of the day he’s a right-sided defender who scored twice in AFCON from the left wing! Did that suit the team? It was good that he scored, but it pulled the whole defence out of shape. Bongani got criticised for that. I don’t think that was fair.”

Glyn was a guest of BOLLOCKZ! my show on, which happens every Thursday from 10am-noon. We also spoke to Wits coach Gordon Hunt, Mpumalanga boss Clive Barker and Tlou Segolela’s agent Tim Sukazi about the “political hazards” at Orlando Pirates. Those interviews will appear here later.

You can also follow me on for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & Pray” column every Tuesday in

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Monday, 22 July 2013

Chiefs on a high, Pirates at a low: but don't be fooled by pre-season friendlies

Inside Knowledge: Musona scored on Sunday and
has shrugged off injury concerns as "cramp"
ON the face of it the South African domestic football season got off to very different starts for the two Soweto giants over the weekend.

At Orlando on Friday night, the Pirates were unable to breach the spotty Leopards defence in a disappointing 0-0 draw which saw new striker Lennox Bacela fail to score against the very ordinary Congo champions.

At Loftus Versfeld on Sunday, Kaizer Chiefs lifted the Gauteng Cup with a rip-roaring 4-1 win over Bloemfontein Celtic – and Knowledge Musona scored the third on his return to the club on loan.

The social networks made a meal of football’s long-awaited return. Roger de Sa was widely lampooned as a coach in crisis after his too-little-too-late decision to resort to two strikers as the Buccaneers desperately attempted to get their African Champions League Group A challenge off to a winning start.

But Stuart Baxter, after a first season which saw the AmaKhosi lift the PSL and Nedbank Cup double, could do no wrong as his side demolished Siwelele – Willard Katsande scored with a curling cross and even rarely-glimpsed Kaizer Motaung Junior slipped on to the score sheet at Loftus.

De Sa was left desperately defending his decision to put the unloved Ndumiso Mabena on ahead of Zambia’s blockbusting Collins Mbesuma late on Friday night. I texted Roger just after half-time suggesting he should go with two up front, calling for my namesake to add firepower.

Instead, we got Mabena amid widespread twitter fury with De Sa explaining: “Mabena is in much better shape. Collins was off with Zambia’s national team so he got to our pre-season training later than the rest. He’s not a small guy; he carries a lot of wait.

“He could only play a half in our friendly in Lesotho. He was poor, he was out of touch – no disrespect to him but we tried again during training last week and we have to select on what we see there.

 “Mabena and Bacela were the two strikers we went with because of what we saw in training. I couldn’t pick Mbesuma simply because he scored 20 goals five years ago!”

On the result itself, De Sa lamented: “We created plenty of chances, I’m happy with that, but we are disappointed, we deserved a win after that second half.”

Baxter, on the other hand, was glowing: “Considering it’s so early in the season, I thought we were excellent at times. It was a decent performance, we worked hard.

“I was particularly pleased to see Morgan Gould play like that – he’s only about 75 percent fit. He's had two one hour spells in the practice games that we played. It was a good work-out with the Carling Cup to come next weekend.”

Yes. The Carling Cup. That bizarre, glitzy friendly where the fans decide. Could be interesting.

Depressed Pirates fans should consider this: they made the Congo champions look very ordinary and with Group A’s Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek playing at a neutral Red Sea resort on Wednesday, their Champions League campaign is far from over.

For celebrating Chiefs fans, perspective is needed. The Gauteng Cup – like he Carling Cup – is a mere pre-season detail.

These early warning shots are not decisive. A long season lies ahead. Wits and SuperSport United are building furiously. Let’s not judge anything – or anyone – just yet.

KNOWLEDGE MUSONA was carried off on a stretcher during his goal-scoring debut on Sunday but he confirms: "It was nothing, just cramp. I'll be fine - but I do need to work on my sharpnessl.

"The fans were awesome, it' great to be back."

"I thought we played really well for a pre-season game but we have plenty of work left to do/"

You can listen to BOLLOCKS! every Thursday, 10am-noon on or read "Neal and Pray" every Tuesday in The New Age.

You should also click on BOLLOCKZ! sponsors for our latest chat about sports betting or follow me on

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The interview they all wanted on Madiba Day: Roger De Sa on Orlando Pirates' opening Champions League Group A clash against Congo champions AC Leopards

LENNOX BACELA has been confirmed as the new Orlando Pirates premier poacher as the Buccaneers prepare to open their African Champions League Group A campaign.

Before their opening clash against Congo champions AC Leopards at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday (8pm), Pirates coach Roger de Sa revealed the 30-year-old former Bloemfontein Celtic striker has moved to the top of the pile after his predatory pre-season progress.

The elusive De Sa, talking from his (noisy) 67-minute Madiba Day charity event at Tembisa Primary School, said: "Sheez, it’s a tough game, they're a good team Leopards, from what I've seen on the videos.

"All the opposition at this point is tough, but what makes it tougher is they're in the middle of their season, we haven't played for a while.”

Talking on the fifth edition of my BOLLOCKZ! show on, Roger said: "If you mix with the African champions, we've got to do the business, especially at home. We've got to step up. I'm looking for a good start, let's take it from there.

"Lennox has come in and done well for us, he's a very mobile one, that's what we needed. He's got four goals in two friendlies.

"Bacela got two goals in the friendly for the King of Lesotho last weekend, he is the in-form guy right now, he'll start on Saturday. He gives us different options."

With the great Benni McCarthy retired and unwanted Zimbabwean Takesure Chinyama training at PSL rivals Bidvest Wits, De Sa added: "Our Zambia striker Collins Mbesuma is struggling with his form and fitness but I'm sure he'll play a part as well.

"We're a little bit weak in defence, everyone knows about our suspensions and injuries (Bafana star Siya Sangweni in particular) so we've got to take the game to them. Our attack is our strong point.

"We can't sit back. Bacela's mobility is something we needed, I hope we'll supply him. I just hope he continues the scoring spree!"

On technical director Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala's dealings with Supersport United's unsettled striker Kermit Erasmus (he scored their second in the 2-0 win over Manchester City at Loftus on Sunday), De Sa laughed: "We're just one of the clubs interested in Kermit, he'd be a great addition to the team without a doubt.

"If we get him, great, if we don't we've got to move on and look for somebody else."

With Pirates playing Leopards at Orlando on Saturday, the two Egyptian giants in the group - Al Ahli and Zamalek - have been forced to move their clash to an obscure Red Sea resort on Wednesday to avoid the Morsi-fuelled problems in Cairo.

Roger said: "We've seen a lot of things on television about Egypt. It might be the right time to play their best teams in the African Champions League

"But it will still be tough - it might not weaken them, it may even take the pressure off them. It might be more relaxed for them at a neutral venue.

"Without a doubt, it's been in the back of our minds - where and how we're going to play them in two weeks."

But the game which could define Roger's reign on Saturday remains paramount.

With Pirates in their new “back-to-black” strip to start the new season, De Sa said; "We're hoping for a good crowd in Orlando on Saturday, we haven't had football there for a while.

"We are the last South African club to fly the flag in Africa, we're looking forward to it, we want to do the country proud."

You can listen to BOLLOCKS! every Thursday, 10am-noon on or read "Neal and Pray" every Tuesday in The New Age.

This week on BOLLOCKS! was unmissable, with Gordon Igesund talking from an orphanage in Zambia after Bafana's penalty shoot-out defeat against the hosts in the COSAFA Cup and former Bundesliga star Bradley Carnell talking about his youth trials on Saturday at the University of Johannesburg.

We also spoke to SuperSport United CEO STANLEY MATTHEWS about Kermit Erasmus and the future of SuperSport United and Siyavuma Sport managing director Paul Mitchell revealed the background to South Africa's impressive youngster Buhle Mkhwanazi and the mysterious MOLE discussing Wayne Rooney's future in the UK. I've added some of those videos below.

You should also click on BOLLOCKZ! sponsors for our latest chat about sports betting or follow me on

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Gordon Igesund on Bafana's Cosafa Cup semi-final tonight - and Shakes Kungwane on South African football in general

Numbibia: disappointed Namibia fans on Sunday
GORDON IGESUND faces hosts Zambia in the semi-final of the unloved CONSAFA Cup in Ndola at 8pm tonight (live on DSTV 204) insisting: “We can only give it our best.”

After fielding a team of little known international faces in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Namibia on Sunday, Igesund remains upbeat as rival Chipolopolo boss Herve Renard insists: “This is a game we must win, as hosts we have to get to the final.”

Igesund, talking from Ndola yesterday, told me: “Remember these boys have never played together before, we’ve put a team together out of nothing. We only trained together twice before our first match, it’s not been ideal.

“And Zambia will have SIX of their World Cup qualifying squad available. I have one. It’s been an interesting situation but the players have responded well.”

Igesund was forced to re-select his original squad when Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung pulled his double-winning players out of the team. Orlando Pirates also withdrew their stars and SuperSport United chose to put their friendly against Manchester City ahead of the nation’s COSAFA crusade.

In a final blow on Monday after SuperSport’s surprise 2-0 win over English Premier League runners-up City on Sunday, Matsatsantsa centre-back Bevan Fransman, who was supposed to fly to Zambia on Sunday night, failed to board his flight.

But Igesund remains upbeat despite the turmoil, saying: “I’ve got no complaints. These young players showed against Namibia we have depth in South Africa. We’ll give it all we have.”

ISAAC “SHAKES” KUNGWANE is not a bad man to turn to for the BIG opinions on the beautiful game as it exists in South Africa – especially when inside Knowledge is the name of the game.

The bubbling former Kaizer Chiefs star, perhaps the most animated of the PSL analysts on SuperSport (not to mention one of the better dancers), believes the much-talked about Knowledge Musona will be under huge pressure as he returns to the AmaKhosi this year.

The Zimbabwean striker, on loan from Bundesliga club Hoffenheim for a year, must slot in to a double-winning squad and reproduce the form he produced as a hungry, young goal-getter in Soweto three years ago.

Shakes points out: “Knowledge Musona was a hungry young player when he first joined Kaizer Chiefs. He worked very hard, every game. He made his name. Now here’s the Catch 22 situation. All the Euros he got from Germany, what happened there honestly speaking? He spent two years at Hoffenheim and Augsburg and didn’t do that well. That’s a fact.

“It’s not going to be easy for him back in South Africa to a league he was used to . A lot of pressure’s going to be put on him like when Bernard Parker came back from Holland.

“Hopefully he’ll score goals but the pressure will be on Knowledge.”

But surely Orlando Pirates’ own striking signing – Lennox Bacela from Bloemfontein Celtic – will find things tough too?

Shakes laughs: “He doesn’t have the same scoring record as Knowledge but he will THRIVE on the service he gets from people like Dane Klaite, Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali in Orlando.

“Bacela is an out-and-out striker who gets in the box, he should get goals. But when coaches play away from home, will he get the chance?”

Pirates fans know Collins Mbesuma has been struggling, Takesure Chinyama and Benni McCarthy are gone and Shakes says: “I think it depends on the system Roger de Sa plays. When he plays away, Pirates will probably only use one striker in the Champions League. But in the PSL, Mbesuma is a good holder of the ball, I think I will work with Bacela.

“With a lot of planning – and I understand they will sign some more players soon – I believe Pirates can go all the way in Africa. They’re looking at the second star!

And our new champions Kaizer Chiefs next year? “I mean with Stuart Baxter at the helm, with the kind of football they played in the middle of last season, I have a lot of hope they can do well in the Champions League too.”

But Shakes also offers a serious critique of South African football: “We are a confused nation in terms of our style of play. Our physique doesn’t allow us to play the German style of football. We have to be a bit of Spanish, a little bit of Brazilian

“But we’ll never have that in South Africa. Coaches don’t trust eachother. They don’t sit down and discuss Bafana Bafana’s Under 20s with Gordon Igesund. We shouldn’t be picking the likes of Shabba and YeYe for the COSAFA Cup. It’s for youngsters.

“To show that there is something wrong with our football, you cannot go and watch Wits and Platinum Stars… how many players are going to turn up and watch there? That’s the state of our football. People get bussed in to watch the PSL!

“We also have to address the problem of age cheating in our academies. We should have great development in this country – like Ghana, who reached the Under 20 World Cup semi-finals in Turkey last week.

“The egos of coaches and people in football in this country, you talk about SAFA and the elections in September – everybody is looking to get their own feet in an office in SAFA House. Development takes a back seat.”

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Cavin Johnson's first task as SuperSport United coach: MANCHESTER CITY live and dangerous at Loftus on Sunday!

CAVIN JOHNSON faces possibly the most frightening introduction possible to his new job as SuperSport United boss on Sunday – when he faces a club by the name of Manchester City.

The most expensively assembled team in the history of English football flew in to Durban’s King Shaka airport today before their Nelson Mandela Invitational opener against Matsatsantsa at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.

And yes, Jesus is coming – Jesus Navas. Sheikh Mansour’s most recent acquisition from Spain's Sevilla is included in the City squad under the management of new Italian coach Manuel Pellegrini, who replaced Roberto Mancini despite their runners-up finish in the Barclays Premier League last season.

Speaking on my show BOLLOCKZ on, an excited Johnson – who moved to SuperSport last month after taking Platinum Stars to a surprising runners-up spot in the PSL last season – told me: “Neal, in all respects, yes, City players are among the highest-paid players in the world but for us at SuperSport it’s an honour to play them for Nelson Mandela.

“But on the other hand, in England, City are one of the top four teams. In South Africa, SuperSport United are one of the top four teams!

“Two different brands of football are coming together – hopefully on the day we’ll have the advantage. City have had to fly 11 hours to get to our country!

Johnson, who replaces three-time PSL champion Gavin Hunt at the helm, revealed: “Thuso Phala, the man I brought with me from Platinum Stars, is injured unfortunately, but you will see former AmaTuks Senegal strike Mame Niang.

“David Mathebula and Bennett Chenene from Moroka Swallows will definitely play. We have a new youngster called Morne Nel – he’s only 17. I might give him ten minutes against Manchester City! He’s a midfielder. Who knows, what a dream that would be for him! Dino Moketse is another youngster – but he played a few games last season.
OUT IN AFRICA: England captain Joe Hart and City's
Belgian captain Vincent Kompany on the
road from King Shaka airport yesterday

“We have agreed to allow eight or nine substitutions so we will be able to give a lot of players a run.”

Among his more established stars are Sameehg Doutie, rumoured to be wanted in Europe, South Africa’s fastest defender Bevan Fransmann – who will fly off to join Bafana Bafana’s COSAFA Cup campaign in Zambia after the game – and Mor Diouf, who memorably scored from 70 yards in the Tshwane derby against Mamelodi Sundowns last season.

Diouf told me after that goal he loves the long range efforts though England goalkeeper Joe Hart may be harder to beat from the halfway line than Wayne Sandilands!

“The question is, can my players get a hold on players like David Silva or their new Brazilian Fernandinho? That will bring a little bit of spark into our lives at Loftus on Sunday!

“For me it’s about giving the crowd a good display of football – and hopefully we’ll be able to score six or seven!"

England's 2012 champions City, like neighbours United and Chelsea, start the season under new management too.

Their new Italian boss Manuel Pellegrini arrived in Durban today insisting: "I am here to work with young players and the professional team. Winning trophies is important but it is not just about that." 

Johnson grins: “At the present moment, considering what Manchester City have done in the Premier League, it couldn’t be a better start for me at SuperSport.

“We’ve had Engen join us as sponsors and we have exciting development programmes in place.

“I don’t actually support any club in England, as a coach I need to see all the other teams and what they do!

“I’m enjoying this job to the fullest right now. It’s one of the big teams in South Africa, we have a lot of personalities and I’ll see you on Sunday at Loftus!”

You can follow me on - or you can meet me at Eastwoods, the Loftus bar, at high noon before Sunday’s game with SuperSport United fanatic Trevor van Wyk and other twitter buddies!

EXCLUSIVE: How I revealed Cavin Johnson's move to SuperSport United in May:


July 14 Supersport United (South Africa)

July 18 AmaZulu FC (South Africa)

July 24 South China (Hong Kong)

July 27 Tottenham/Sunderland (Hong Kong)

July 31 AC Milan (Germany)

August 1 Bayern Munich/Sao Paulo (Germany)

August 10 Arsenal (Finland)

Friday, 5 July 2013

Mickey Modisane on Orlando Pirates going "back to black"... and on to the CAF Champions League Group stages

Orlando Pirates PRO Mickey Modisane is never less than a ball of energy on air. With his club about to resume CAF Champions League action AND unveil their new “back to black” shirts he was nearly unplayable!

Modisane revealed the ENTIRE Buccaneers squad will be at Loftus to watch the Bulls play rugby on Saturday and appealed to the entire football-speaking nation: “Let us get together behind South Africa’s flag carriers.”

Speaking on the third episode of my new football show BOLLOCKZ! on Ballz radio, Micky said: “We kick off the Champions League group stages against AC Leopards from the Congo at Orlando on July 20 and the players will be in our new shirts, that is what’s going to be happening. And by then we want our fans to have our new jerseys in the stadium.

“We want to get people who are prominent. The likes of yourself on the social networks can help us. We want you to wear this shirt so people can talk about “back to black”. We want the fans to buy the shirts – and to attend the game in Soweto.

“We are going back to the original colours of Orlando Pirates football club. And I can tell you this new shirt is out of this world. “On the 16th of July I have a date with you, Neal. To give you our new shirt. I look forward to that!

BOLLOCKS: me with my new producer Comfort Kheswa
and analyst Zane Moosa at the Ballz studios

“We will be playing a game in Lesotho on July 14 in honour of the King’s Birthday. By the time we play Leopards at 8pm on the 20th – tickets are already on CompuTicket – we will be ready. WE WANT ANOTHER STAR! 

“Some players have left us, but we have put all that behind us. We are ready. The coach is ready.

“When we played against TP Mazembe, South Africans came out but not in the numbers we expected. We saw how they came out in the DR Congo. We need to give AC Leopards the feeling they are on Orlando turf.

“South Africans must rally behind our sportsmen. Not necessarily Pirates fans. We are flying the flag. In the spirit of our nation. All this is happening in the Mandela month.

“My birthday is on July 21 too so Neal, remember to send me a well wish!

“We want to spread the love of the Madiba feeling at that time. You know what, the entire Orlando Pirates squad will be going to Loftus, watching a Bulls rugby match against the Sharks.

“We align ourselves with the best brands in South African sport. We say to white fans: Rally behind us. We’ll be there for the Bulls on Saturday… watch us, listen to us.

“Tickets for the AC Leopards game? Hospitality sells at R1,000 but we have the R40 general tickets to from Computicket and Shoprite.”

Link for tickets to Orlando Pirates AC Leopards at the Orlando Stadium on July 20 is here: 

BOLLOCKZ! is my new show on Tune in by live stream or app, from anywhere in the world, 10am-noon every Thursday.

Follow me on and see our backers for the latest sports betting!


Zane Moosa on BOLLOCKZ! explaining Nelson Mandela Sports Day and the Bidvest Wits boom

South Africa’s leading  football analyst Zane Moosa popped in to my new show BOLLOCKZ! on Ballz radio on Thursday – after attending the launch of the Nelson Mandela Sports Day extravaganza in Sandton.

Former Mamelodi Sundowns, Wits, Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana star Moosa brought us the lowdown on the events in honour of Madiba which will see the rugby Springboks take on Argentina, our footballing Bafana Bafana versus Burkina Fosa – and he revealed an Italian legends team will take on South Africa’s veterans on the same bill at Soccer City on August 17.

Moosa said: “It’s going to be a spectacular… not just AmaBokke and Bafana but the Italian masters too – Paulo Rossi the 1982 World Cup top-scorer will be there and a lot of other household names from Italy’s best-ever side.”

Oregan Hoskins, head of the South African Rugby Union president, said: “We are doing something for someone who saved our sport and saved our society,” while Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said: "We must not forget the reason why we are doing it. We are celebrating Nelson Mandela. Our prayers are with him and it is a great occasion."

Zane, who eased himself out of the N1 traffic to visit the offices, added: “The who’s who of South African sport were there for the launch, Irvin Khoza the head of the PSL, both the presidents of our football and rugby associations, Neil Tovey, Danny Jordaan, Francois Pienaar.

“Bryan Habana received an award from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula for his 50 Test tries… and there were accolades for our women hockey players and netballers."

Profits from the event itself – which also features a music concert – will go to the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital.

With tickets on sale at Computicket for between R250 and R2,500, Moosa said: “This is what Nelson Mandela would have wanted. Football fans supporting rugby, rugby fans supporting football.”

BOLLOCKZ! is my new show on Tune in by live stream or app, from anywhere in the world, 10am-noon every Thursday. Follow me on and see our backers for the latest sports betting!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

British transfer expert known only as THE MOLE makes his debut on BOLLOCKZ! Guess who he is and WIN the brand new Orlando Pirates shirt!

THE MOLE made his debut on chapter three of BOLLOCKZ! my new football show on this morning. You can listen to our interview by clicking on the arrow above. Mind the mole claws.

With a broad north London accent and a shrewd understanding of the British transfer market, THE MOLE told us: "I don't know if Arsenal really want Luis Suarez from Liverpool with all the baggage he brings. He's got an agent, obviously, who is putting his name around to all and sundry."

The Mole also told us about Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain's possible move to the Gunners from Real Madrid amid suggestions the cash could, ironically, be used by the Spanish giants to fund their bid for Tottenham's Welsh Wizard Gareth Bale.

We also talked about Chelsea's new signing, Phil Neville's elevation to assistant manager at Manchester United under his former Everton boss David Moyes - and the possibility of Wayne Rooney playing in London.

Earlier in the show, I talked to former Orlando Pirates star Mark Fish - dressed in my old 2011 "Treble Winners" Sea Robbers jersey. Mark and I chatted about the old Pirates African conquering side and touched on his ONLY international appearance in the COSAFA Cup in 1998 - a 3-2 extra-time defeat against Namibia in Windhoek.

That Bafana side featured Benni McCarthy, Philemon Masinga and a host of star - but still came a cropper! See our discussion on video below.

Also on BOLLOCKZ yesterday Buccaneers PRO Mickey Modisane promised I would be the FIRST to wear the new "back to black" Pirates jersey on July 16.

I'll swap jerseys to do just that LIVE on the day - but the brand new shirt will go to a lucky reader of my blog IF they can give me the identity of THE MOLE! Simply post your answers to over the next week for a chance to win!

I'll post the Mickey Modisane interview later. The general aim is to build a nationwide head of steam before Pirates renew their Champions League challenge against Congo's AC Leopards at the Orlando Stadium on July 20.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Bafana fan guide to the COSAFA Cup: the who, what, where and when in Zambia next week. Featuring: the player with no name

Willie or won't he? Surprise Bafana squad member William Twala

SOUTH AFRICA’S once-hopeful 2013 COSAFA CUP campaign has not got off to the best of starts. Gordon Igesund’s carefully laid plans were zapped even before he’d named his original squad for a revived tournament Bafana Bafana are determined to win for the first time since 2008.

A new low was reached when SAFA announced a player with the wrong name AND club as a member of the re-selected squad – a lad called William Twala who is the ONLY Orlando Pirates player in the team, has yet to start pre-season training and knew NOTHING of his elevation.

Best we don’t actually go into the erm… animated debate between Igesund and Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung, except to say that accusations of distorting the truth soon became proclamations of patriotism once last every one of the “exhausted” AmaKhosi players had been eased out of the 20-man squad.

Is it worth mentioning SuperSport United decided to withdraw two players because they’ve got a friendly with Manchester City at Loftus?

Ultimately, having already left out goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and the overseas contingent, Igesund was forced to release NINE more in his second attempt with only Twala featuring from the Buccaneers and AmaKhosi.

Out went our number-one-in-waiting Ronwen Williams and SuperSport team-mate Kermit Erasmus, young defenders Thabo Nthethe, Tefu Mashamaite and Mulomowandau “Tower” Mathoho and Tebogo Langerman and those old hands, Reneilwe “YeYe” Letsholonyane, Siphiwe “Shabba” Tshabalala and the elusive Bernard “Scores Where He Wants” Parker.

In their place? A host of lesser known players: Siyabonga Mpontshane, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Sibusiso Khumalo, Musa Bilankulu, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Lance Davids, Sibusiso Msomi, Lerato Chabangu, and a certain William Twala.


Hosts ZAMBIA are the highest rated Council of Southern Africa Football Associations member at 49 on the latest FIFA rankings. SOUTH AFRICA are second best at 60.

Losing quarter-finalists will enter a PLATE competition, more akin to sevens rugby than FIFA football tournaments.

The 14 member countries of COSAFA are Angola, Botswana, Comores, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Associate Member Reunion.

Zimbabwe was the COSAFA Cup FOUR times, while South Africa, Angola and Zambia have won three each (see table below).

New COSAFA offices in Parkhurst, Johannesburg were offically opened by CAF President Dr Isa Hayatou on February this year.

The competiton was launched in 1997 – when Zambia won it – and was staged in various forms every year until 2009. This year marks the return of the event after it was cancelled when hosts Angola withdrew in 2010. Last year’s attempted revival – scheduled for Malawi  – was cancelled.

4 times
2000, 2003, 2005, 2009
3 times
1997, 1998, 2006
3 times
1999, 2001, 2004
3 times
2002, 2007, 2008

Though he was announced as “Siyabonga Thwala of Chippa United”, a quick check on the man of that name at Amazulu revealed a slight glitch.

Instead, it appears South Africa had indeed turned to William Twala in their hour of need – a 23-year-old who played for doomed Chippa United on loan from Pirates after moving to Orlando from National First Division club FC AK in January 2012.

Turns out he hasn’t even begun training with the rest of Roger de Sa’s squad who returned to pre-season last week as he was NOT amongst those named for the Champions League campaign starting against Congo’s AC Leopards on July 20 at Orlando.

Twala – listed by Bafana as a striker but by other sources as a midfielder - appeared as bewildered as anybody by his selection. With no junior squad squads apparent for a while, that has become the nature of South African international football selection. Find a promising player, hope you’ve got his about name right, shout it out at a press conference and hope he gets to hear.

In the end it was a lad called Christopher Maqashu at who found (as far as we know) the right Twala – though he knew nothing of his elevation to international football from the obscure depths of a troubled loan spell at Chippa which ended on the play-off trapdoor.

The first call to Twala elicited a "Really? I’ll call my manager quickly." While the second (presumably after confirmation) went like this: “I don’t know what to say, it's like I’m dreaming… but I’m very happy. My father just confirmed the news to me now.

“At the moment I’ve just arrived in Johannesburg from Cape Town, I’m going back to Pirates, and it’s up to them if they are going to let me go and join the national team.”

I guess Igesund will hold his breath until then. I hear he’s already blue in the face.

The great irony of course, is that South Africa will be one of the privileged sides when the tournament gets underway in Zambia on Saturday with Namibia – under new management with Ricardo Mannetti – taking on politically-powerful islanders Mauritius.

But at the last minute we lost oil-rich Equatorial Guinea – currently under FIFA investigation after yet another attempt to field a side comprised purely of foreigners (mostly Brazilians). They claimed a fortnight ago they didn't have the funds to get to Zambia (this from one of the richest nations in Africa) so they won't be playing against the islanders of the Seychelles, not to be confused with recent Confederations Cup whipping boys Tahiti.

South Africa need hardly bother about all this. Given their seeded status, Bafana only get underway a week later in the second of the quarter-finals on July 13.

For the less privileged (though they may know the proper names of their entire squad), a tough group stage first has to be endured. South Africa will play the winners of Group A in the last eight – probably western neighbours Namibia, thought Seychelles and Mauritius will attempt to stop the Africans with a German flavour.

Seeded Angola will take on the winners of  Group B, which includes Bafana’s last World Cup qualifying rivals Botswana, world No123 Kenya plus our neighbours Swaziland and Lesotho.

Assuming South Africa come through their quarter-final, they then play either 2012 AFCON champions Zambia or Sundowner Elias Pelembe’s Mozambique.

That will take place at the 44,000-capacity Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on July 17, with the final and third-place play-off both on July 20 at the same venue in Ndola.

Quarter-final failure doesn’t mean Bafana go home though – Igesund will have to endure a rate plate semi-final and final according to the tournament schedule.

Igesund’s take? “I'm quite happy with the changes we had to make. We've got a masterplan. That's to develop kids that will come through and this is an opportunity for players to play in a tournament that is important."

A1: Namibia
A3: Mauritius
A4: Seychelles

B1: Kenya
B2: Botswana
B3: Lesotho
B4: Swaziland

06/07/13 Day 1:
Namibia v Mauritius 14h30 (Nkoloma)
EG vs Seychelles 17h00 (Lusaka)

07/07/13 Day 2:
Kenya vs Lesotho 15h00 (Arthur Davies)
Botswana vs Swaziland 17h00 (Kitwe)

08/07/13 Day 3:
Mauritius vs EG 14h30 (Nkoloma)
Namibia vs Seychelles 17h00 (Lusaka)

09/07/13 Day 4:
Lesotho vs Botswana 15h00 (Arthur Davies)
Kenya vs Swaziland 17h00 (Kitwe)

10/07/13 Day 5:
Namibia vs EG 15h00 Nkoloma
Mauritius vs Seychelles 15h00 Nkana (Kitwe)

11/07/13 Day 6:
Kenya vs Botswana 15h00 Nkana (Kitwe)
Lesotho vs Swaziland 15h00 Nkoloma

13/07/13 Day 9:
QF1: Zimbabwe vs Malawi 13h00 (Nkoloma)
QF2: South Africa vs Winner Group A 15h30 (Lusaka)

14/07/13 Day 10:
QF3: Angola vs Winner Group B 13h00 (Nkana)     
QF4: Zambia vs Mozambique 15h30 (Kitwe)

16/07/13 DAY 12:

17/06/13 DAY 13:

18/06/13 DAY 14:

19/06/13 DAY 15: REST DAY

20/06/13 DAY 16:


FINALISED BAFANA SQUAD *pending Bobby’s proclamations

Goalkeepers: Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Mpontshane (Platinum Stars)

Defenders: Sibusiso Khumalo, Bevan Fransman (SuperSport United), Buhle Mkhwanazi (University of Pretoria), Musa Bilankulu (Bidvest Wits), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Ajax Cape Town), Lehlohonolo Nonyane (Jomo Cosmos), Tshepo Gumede (Platinum Stars)

Midfielders: Sibusiso Msomi (Platinum Stars), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Jabulani Shongwe, Hlompho Kekana (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Luyolo Nomandela (Free State Stars), Ruzaigh Gamildien (Bloemfontein Celtic), Lance Davids, Lebogang Manyana (both Ajax Cape Town)

Forwards: Katlego Mashego (Moroka Swallows), William Twala (Chippa United) and Thabani Mthembu (Platinum Stars)

Monday, 1 July 2013

VIDEO AND ANALYSIS: Baxter to the future: Double-winning Stuart outlines his plans for Kaizer Chiefs. Bring on Naturena Junior!

KAIZER CHIEFS coach Stuart Baxter arrived back in South Africa this week insisting: “We will put as much effort in to our youth development as we do in to winning trophies.”

The double-winning coach from Britain will not be resting on his laurels after finally ending the AmaKhosi title drought – and “Baxter to the Future” will begin with a revamped academy, complete with new buildings at Naturena, dieticians, psychologists, education and Chiefs DVD’s sent to youth coaches around the country.

Baxter, the first foreign coach to win South Africa’s Premier Soccer League at his first attempt, said: “The catalyst for it was a conversation with the club's founder, Kaizer Motaung. He wants to give something back to the youth of South Africa.

“I gave him an outline for our new academy and we’ve pushed on. I can’t tell you everything right now but we’re co-operating with the university and we’re going to get the educational aspect right through them. We will look at diet, psychology and education, believe me.”

With one eye on the great academies at Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and Barcelona, Baxter said: “It has to happen. As the club owner, Kaizer thinks all these things are important for young footballers hoping to turn professional. We want a good footballer playing Kaizer Chiefs way, and we want a good person, a well-rounded South African, to leave here if he doesn’t.

“It’s taking a lot of time, while we’re also trying to win leagues and cups. But we’re working hard on it.

“We are putting together a CD. We want to put it out to all the coaches. Our own internal coaching network, delivering the right stuff to their age-group. The DVD will go to the players too, you can click on your position and see how we want them to play with videos and ideas.

“We want uniformity. We want to co-operate with the regional associations. We want appropriate training and to help life skills.”

Talking on Bollockz, my new show every Thursday on, Baxter joked: “We won’t be selling “Pirate” DVDs at the traffic lights! There are no secrets in football. Everybody knows what they’re going to get when they play Manchester United or Barcelona.

“We want out forwards to make a certain kind of run, we must get on with it. We do things that people have known about all year and we got decent results with it!  There are some things we keep to ourselves but it’s not all cloak-and-dagger.

“We have to take collective responsibility for youth football. We can’t blame the national coach – Gordon Igesund – for losing with Bafana. Gordon can support it all but he shouldn’t be the scapegoat for not having good youth development behind him.

“I did an interview for a British newspaper yesterday and they asked about development in Africa. You get one great team from Senegal or Nigeria – South Africa had a great team too in the 90s – but they disappear.

“The first African country that puts down these foundations, these opportunities, will become a powerhouse. But we are still squabbling about who should do what.

“We’ve got to get together and get this done. In ten years, we can’t be saying: “Why did we not beat Ethiopia. Why did we hit the post? It’s about development. We must discuss it openly.

“It’s all this protectionism. It’s taking us nowhere. In that environment you don’t learn. We need a collective way of playing football. There is a South African way. We just have to explain it. They do it in Sweden, Germany, Argentina… all the countries that have good youth development.

“You can’t fragment it, like in England. They don’t let people in to their training facilities. They don’t co-operate.

“You never know, you might have a logo you can click on to hear me singing on the DVD, I’m not sure!”

On the growing demand for transfer news at Naturena, Baxter said: “When I left there was speculation we would lose a couple of players.

“I’m back this week, we’ll have a chat. Look at the buttons we need to check. We need a couple of signings to strengthen us. We’re not about to let people go.

“Put it this way, I don’t see a lot of traffic. I see a couple in. One or possibly two out. Not a lot more.

“We’ll put as much effort into youth as we do into the seniors. Rest assured.”

This story appears as my column in tomorrow. Ready my "Neal & Pray" column every Tuesday and follow me on

BOLLOCKZ! is my new show on Tune in by live stream or app, from anywhere in the world, 10am-noon every Thursday. Follow me on and see our backers for the latest sports betting!