Sunday, 30 August 2015

A SHOCKING SATURDAY IN STORE FOR BAFANA BAFANA: Welcome to Mauritania, the world leaders on slavery.

GRIM TRUTH: child slavery is common in Mauritania
RIGHT now, South Africa's finest footballers (according to the slightly confused Ephraim Mashaba) are gathering for battle. International conflict is upon us once more. And our beloved Bafana Bafana are scheduled to play Mauritania, the world's leading slave nation.

Today, we could talk about Mpumalanga Black Aces being top of the PSL for three weeks just two months after trying to sell their top flight status to relegated Amazulu.

Or we could recall Steve Komphela’s bizarre post-match interview as he guided Kaizer Chiefs past financially-troubled Bloemfontein Celtic en route to the MTN8 final and what might just be the first trophy of his career as a player or a coach.

Or we could discuss Bafana Bafana’s Tokelo Rantie, who has played just 23 minutes this season for Bournemouth, being South Africa’s major weapon on Saturday after refusing to leave his honeymoon bed last time he was called. 

Instead, I’ve dug this illuminating paragraph out of an article about Mauritania, Bafana Bafana’s next AFCON 2017 qualifying opponents. Feel free to click on the links for confirmation, it's all there on Wikipedia.

A system exists now by which Arab Muslims—the bidanes (literal meaning: white skinned people)—own black slaves, the haratines. An estimated 90,000 Mauritanians remain essentially enslaved. According to some estimates, up to 600,000 Mauritanians, or 20% of the population, are still enslaved.

I never thought I’d see ANYTHING like that in the 21st century. I first came across this Mauritanian slavery stuff during the last CHAN tournament here in 2013, but since then I’ve researched a little deeper. It's despicable.

Shakes Mashaba’s South Africa will fly to Nouakchott on Thursday for the Saturday meeting against a nation where abolitionists are actually jailed for speaking out against slavery.

And nobody says a word. We talk about the composition of our Springboks - eight “players of colour” is clearly not enough for a Rugby World Cup after 20 years - and our Proteas - where Kagiso Rabada and Aaron Phangiso appear to share the “African spot” in our cricket team.

But none of this compares to play against a nation which still harbours slavery, surely?

For some weeks on twitter, I’ve been making this point to our Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who feels the need to proclaim himself “No 1 Springbok fan” every 5 minutes on SuperSport.

I’ve also tried his deputy, some bloke with an Afrikaans name, not to mention Danny Jordaan, the South African Football Association and other sporting luminaries in our nation, which prides itself on equality and a fairest-of-the-fair constitution.

But nobody is prepared to say a word.

Instead, we will discuss whether Dean Furman, after two games for SuperSport United, is ready to captain South Africa in Nouakchott. Whether Tokelo Rantie will play after 24 minutes for Bournemouth this season.

No, please. This time, the debate over shaky Mashaba’s decision-making can be put to one side. His inconsistent, agent-led selections, his rotation of both goalkeepers and captains, his failure to make adequate substitutions as the game demands.

Let’s ignore, for once, that 2015 AFCON in distinctly undemocratic Equatorial Guinea which left us with one point and the joint-worst record in the tournament. And try to get over the 0-0 home draw against Gambia which opened our AFCON 2017 qualifying effort, perhaps the worst result in the history of our game.

Those COSAFA disasters against Botswana and Malawi, the failure to pick Kamohelo Mokotjo, the appearance of so many of average players even when they aren’t playing for their clubs. Our 72nd place in the world rankings.

Ignore it all.

The point is: We are about to play a nation where people still own slaves. Child labour, sex trafficking, discrimination along tribal and race lines. This is Mauritania.

And we say NOT A WORD. This from a nation which so bravely stood up on the sporting field and declared APARTHEID a four-letter word. We are the nation who MADE sport a political football. And it WORKED.

Please, Mr Mbalula, this is when you stand up for principle, not smug self-promotion. Make a statement, at the very least. Even better, go to Nouakchott and make a speech against this awful practice. The dream: CAF and FIFA will ban this foul nation until they mend their broken nation.

And please, Mr Mashaba, let’s give them a good stuffing on the football field. It's the least we can do.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Guest writer Fanele Mbuyazi: Proteas Mission Complete as AB De Villiers hits 8,000-run landmark

Crying for the Proteas: Fanele Mbuyazi
Today's GUEST WRITER is Fanele Mbuyazi (@FaneleMbuyazi8) on twitter. He's 25, from a family of four, without a father since he was six. Fanele has a B Com and has worked in radio production with NEMISA and Mr Price Radio - until the station closed in July. He now works at a call centre for Mr Price.
Fanele says: "You can safely predict my breakfast, lunch and supper: soccer, cricket, rugby, tennis. Frank Lampard is my favourite player of all time. Orlando Pirates, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Werder Bremen are my soccer teams. Bafana Bafana, the Springboks and the Proteas will forever be in my heart!
"Through my love of sports, I have developed great friendship with people such as Andre Bloem, Aslam Khota, Victor K and needless to say Neal Collins."
FACT ABOUT FANELE: He cried when New Zealand knocked us out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

The Proteas completed their revenge on New Zealand as they secured a 2-1 One Day International series victory in Durban on Wednesday.

It wasn’t a crisp display as uncharacteristic, poor fielding dominated much of the day against our 2015 World Cup conquerors. South Africa dropped so many chances in the field and New Zealand also didn’t field to their potential as both teams showed a lot of untidiness.

Fielding certainly emerged an area of concern for Russell Domingo’s men after AB de Villiers won the toss under cloudy Durban skies and elected to bat first. 

The Proteas amassed 283 for 7 in their allotted 50 overs. Chief contributors? The captain himself with a brilliant 64, in the process becoming the fastest man ever to 8 000 ODI runs -yet another record for this superhuman sportsman.

Veteran wicketkeeper Morne Van Wyk made a welcome 54 at the top of the order and a useful 4from the loved-to-be-hated Farhaan Behardien at the back end. In their chase New Zealand fell 62 runs short in the last over. 

But the big question has not been answered yet by Cricket SA: the number 6 and 7 spots belong to the all-important all-rounders.

Between David Wiese and Behardien, they both tried but the truth? Nobody really raised a hand and claimed their place with both hands.

Wiese struggles with the bat, while Farhaan isn't bowling well. With JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis to return, you feel there wasn’t much progress done in terms of selection 

The selection criteria remain the most talked about factor as the series ended - and a tough trip to India beckons.

Kagiso Rabada, our inspiring 20-year-old fast bowler, has barely put a foot wrong in his international career to date. But he has been dropped twice already without any real explanation.

First in Bangladesh and again in the second ODI defeat against New Zealand in Potchefstroom.

If this was the experimental series, why you drop such a young prospect at the back of an impressive display by the young star?

Fuel on the fire: no explanation given by Cricket South Africa. How much good will that do the young man?

Is that how we want to groom our young and upcoming talents?

Next for the Proteas it’s a mountain to climb in India where the Proteas start with two T20’s on October 2, followed by 5 ODIs before closing the tour with the Tests, where South Africa remain No 1 in the world rankings.

How will the new and experienced combinations handle the Indian pressure? Will Rabada play throughout? Only time will tell.

Monday, 24 August 2015

EXCLUSIVE: former Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter on his first EVER sacking... and his future

THREESOME: the Eto'o goal that sunk Baxter
STUART BAXTER is raging. But in a good way. Sacked by Turkish strugglers Genclerbirligi after just two games, the man who took Kaizer Chiefs to two PSL titles in three years is looking forward to a swift return to football.

I'll flesh this story out later, but the talking points come in a rush: "I've never been fired before in my life. And the missus has been on the phone asking when we're going back to South Africa."

Baxter said when he left Chiefs - after being denied a part in player negotiations after winning the PSL for the second time - that he would love to return to South Africa. And with Shakes Mashaba not enjoying the greatest of success with Bafana Bafana, there are obvious conclusions to be drawn.

But the Chippa United-style decision to axe Baxter and his management team after just two games deserves closer examination.

"It was a joke Neal," he tells me by phone from Ankara, "We won ALL our pre-season friendlies and tanked Dutch club FC Twente 5-0. We were looking good, everything was going well.

"Then we start the league and we're 2-1 up... but we concede a goal and the heads go down. We lost 3-2 (to Rizasport). The second game, we're playing Samuel Eto'o's team (Antalyaspor) and we're doing fine... until the last minute.

"We've got an inexperienced ref, he misses a two-footed tackle and Eto'o sticks away the goal to make it 3-1. The journalists made a huge fuss about it.

"We walk in the dressing room afterwards and the 82-year-old chairman, who's had an average of nearly two coaches a season for the 37 years he's been in charge at Genclerbirligi, goes bonkers.

"He tells the entire technical team to pack their stuff and go. We've been here eight weeks. We're just getting started, we look good. But he wants us all gone.

"I didn't bother arguing. He couldn't even remember by name. The players tried to stand up for us, but the chairman told them not to cross the line. It's the fitness coach I brought from Kaizer Chiefs I feel sorry for. And my lad (oldest son Lee), who gave up a five-year contract in Sweden (with AIK Solna) to come here. His wife gave up her job too.

"I'll be fine. I've got hold of my lawyers and we'll have a meeting with the chairman. Will I go back if he says it was all an over-reaction? How can I after this? It makes South Africa look like a nursery school in comparison."

Genclerbirligi haven't finished above ninth for five years in the Turkish league. They last won it in 1949. Baxter only signed one player, Olaf Skulason from Iceland "because we didn't have much in the midfield, and he cost peanuts."

The chairman Ilhan Cavcav has indeed been in charge since 1977 and was born in 1935. In 2014 he threatened to fine any Genclegrbirligi player simply for having a beard. His undemocratic running of the club has led to court cases and accusations of corruption.

But Baxter insists he harbours no ill-feelings: "I have a one-year contract. I'll be able to go back to South Africa and buy a bigger house, that's what I told the missus!

"These things happen in football. My lawyers will sort this out. I'm more concerned about the rest of my technical team than about myself. I'll be back."

When the beautiful game makes sense: a super Saturday for the PSL... and Orlando Pirates

WONDER GOAL: Siphiwe Tshabalala
THE beautiful game doesn't always make sense. It can be ugly, boring, drab. We long for fantasy football. Saturday in South Africa, it all came good.

Me? I loved every minute. In the morning my son, fulfilling the traditional Collins clan left-back position, helped AmaTuks Under 11s to a Football Association of Pretoria Cup win. Gritty, tough, 1-0 over a rugged bunch from Sunnyside. The chairman of FAP asked me to bring Matthew to provincial training. One of those moments for a dad.

But Matthew plays grim, European football. He wins headers, clears 60 yards and tackles like a tractor. We need him to move on from that, play short, develop his touch, keep possession if he's going to make it in the modern game.

Sometimes South African football fails to make exactly those developments in our youngsters. They turn 25 and they've barely improved since they were 15 playing in a creaking, poorly-run PSL.

A few hours later, at LC De Villiers, after a major braai with the triumphant kids and parents, we saw the boys escort the PSL teams out on to a perfect playing surface, in front of the SABC cameras.

I can’t lie. The first half-hour of AmaTuks v Polokwane City was like watching paint dry. Badly. Poor touch, tactically dour, a bit like watching the U11s… but then up popped a lad called Khethukuthula Zwane. A 29-year-old with no major convictions for ravishing goals, he simply set the game alight.

Two thundering strikes from 30 yards secured a first victory for the Tshwane Clever Boys, who ran out 3-0 winners. Across the city - for some reason the PSL thinks playing two games in the same city on the same day at the same time is a good idea - Mamelodi Sundowns were crushing Bidvest Wits 4-2.

Then came Mpumalanga Black Aces, who held Gordon Igesund’s expensive SuperSport United 1-1. With three Oceanians and two UK returnees on show, Igesund appeared to hold all the aces, but football has a way of levelling the playing field.

Then to the CAF Confederations Cup and a rousing 2-0 win for Orlando Pirates over Leopards, a win which secures a semi-final berth for Eric Tinkler’s Buccaneers with captain Oupa Manyisa finishing things off in style.

And finally a rip-roaring 4-0 win for Kaizer Chiefs over Free State Stars at Soccer City with Siphiwe Tshabalalala providing us with a memory of the 2010 World Cup, unleashing a dipping volley from distance to bring the nation to its feet. We shall not mention the second own goal. It was just too damn good.

Simultaneously, Ajax Cape Town beat Maritzburg United 3-1 to raise the tally of PSL goals to 19 in five games. 21 in 6 if you count Pirates’ continental cruise.

And that’s what it’s all about. Goals. Teko Modise, Shabba and Zwane all produced strikes worthy of a Premier League Goal of the Season video. Pitso Mosimane’s post-match interview was as good as anything Jose Mourinho can come up with. Steve Komphela out-verbalised the pair of them.

And for a glorious seven hours, from the 3pm kick-offs to the final words from Komphela at Soccer City, South Africans were able to sit back and admire their national sport. Blimey, with the NDF kicking off too, and Leopards producing their traditional full house up north, it was dream time. Even AmaZulu won!

Hopefully Bafana Bafana came take us on from here against Mauritania in the upcoming AFCON qualifier. After the dreadful 0-0 home draw against minnows Gambia, Shakes Mashaba needs to give the slave-owning, child-labouring, women-trafficking Mauritanians a good stuffing to maintain this bubble of optimism.

God knows, we have the talent. The fact that none of the big achievers on Saturday - Shabba, Zwane, Cuthbert Malajile or Teko Modise - will be on show is beside the point.

Dean Furman, fresh from his PSL debut with SuperSport, will be there. So too will Itumeleng Khune, who produced an astonishing one-handed save for Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.

We kneel and pray for Shakes and Bafana. Mauritania must be mauled. Nouakchott must be nobbled.

Sure, Sunday saw a return to the usual PSL fare. Jomo Cosmos and Golden Arrows couldn't manage a goal between them and we were treated to both coaches saying they were happy with a point. Bloemfontein Celtic's' 1-1 draw against Platinum Stars was little better.

But here’s a final thought. Normally the pressure in South Africa is on the big three. But Pitso, Komphela and Tinkler spent most of the weekend beaming. Those “little big clubs” Bidvest Wits and SuperSport United are the ones feeling the heat. Igesund and Hunt have spent millions.

It’s very, very early in the season, but for once, the pressure is off at Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.

For a few days… a

Friday, 21 August 2015

Guest writer Lettuce Mathebula: Why Vilakazi MUST LEAVE Wits to further his career

THE R15m QUESTION: Lettuce Mathebula
Our THIRD guest blogger is the fabulously named Lettuce Mathebula (@lettucemtititi on twitter), who says he is: "A diehard supporter of football and an upcoming writer who one day want to be a professional writer especially writing about the sport I dearly love...Football."

Lettuce - also known as Hasani - is a Kaizer Chiefs, Barcelona and Manchester City fan. But we can forgive him for that... 

Sibusiso Vilakazi is arguably the best player in the country and because of his unwavering exceptional performances week in and week out many teams has came knocking with an effort to lure the industrious midfield-cum striker away from Bidvest Wits.
As the things stands Bidvest Wits are not willing to let their precious player leave and if they had to do so it will only come from a convincing price from whoever wants to sign the 25-year-old Bafana Bafana international.
I strongly believe it's high time Sibusiso Vilakazi make a move away from Bidvest Wits,  I don't care much where he will go to, it can be Orlando Pirates,  Mamelodi Sundowns or Kaizer Chiefs but it's time to make a move.
An opportunity to move to greener pastures to many footballers comes once in a footballing career and should an opportunity be missed it may happen that it does not present itself once again.
Villa has done so well at Bidvest Wits and I don't think there's anything more that Villa can still achieve at Bidvest Wits and that's another reason why I believe a change of environmental might be what Sibusiso Vilakazi needs at this point in time.
A R15 million price tag on Vilakazi by Bidvest Wits is just a way to say we don't want to sell him and that might not be a right decision by Bidvest Wits as far as Villa's footballing career is concern.
I'm a fan of footballers who are always willing to take new challenges as it gives them an opportunity for to grow as footballers as they tend to learn new things in different environments.
I'm appealing to Sibusiso Vilakazi to make a move now because it may be now or never for him. I believe Villa can even do better in one of the big three teams or even if it means going to Europe let it be, as long as Sibusiso Vilakazi make a move...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Guest writer and Orlando Pirates fan Eric Gcina Moyo explains why Dean Furman's return to South Africa could be vital for club and country

Today's guest columnist is Eric Gcina Moyo. Here's @EricGeeM in his own words: "I'm a 22 year old lad. Born in Soweto, raised in the Johannesburg CBD and finally settled in the south of Jo'burg, in a little area called Lawley.

"I'm currently studying Business Management at UNISA, but my passion 4 football has got me considering other options. Writing is one of them

"I've played in the Ennerdale League. A local league in our area. But it was mainly just to keep fit."

WARNING!!! This is written by a die-hard Orlando Pirates fan, with a teaspoon of jealousy and bucket loads filled with envy.

There's no doubt in my young mind that everyone who's not a SuperSport United fan will definitely share the same sentiments. Especially their "not so noisy" neighbours and a few "Glamour Boys" who have made a few signings but are still faced with on-going issues about certain members just in-front of the midfield going on strike.

But before my head gets chopped off, let me SCORE myself a few points by saying, NO MORE CONTROVERSY FROM MY SIDE. 

Michael Boxall, Grant Kekana, Isaka Cernak and Dove Wome are a few signings that have raised a few eyebrows.

But the one that caught my eye and yours too without a doubt, was the Super signing to date, of Bafana Bafana captain Dean Furman on a two-year deal, with an option to add a year to his current contract.

After 261 league and cup appearances for Doncaster Rovers, with 16 goals and 19 assists might make him seem like he's all bark and no bite to an EPL team, but luckily for him we know that his primary focus is not creating GOALS or being a STRIKER and SCORING GOALS week-in and week-out.

BIG Dean Fair-Man (what I normally call him, despite his tiny stature), has won a million hearts in Mzansi since making his debut, coincidentally under Gordon Igesend, who is now at the helm of SuperSport United. 

The humble Camps Bay-born midfielder has expressed his delight at joining Matsatsantsa: "These are obviously EXCITING TIMES for the club, and for me," said Furman. "I'm a player who is fairly COMFORTABLE ON THE BALL and have a GOOD PASSING RANGE which is probably the strongest part of my game." 

Those words from BIG Dean Fair-Man have probably answered the "Who is Dean Furman and what does he bring to SuperSport United" questions, from a surprisingly few fans who might not be familiar with the Fair-Man. 

Finally, something not so Ghostly, but a bit GLAMOROUS and means a few thumbs and index fingers up. BIG Dean's signing is not only good for SuperSport United but also means plenty of POSITIVES for Bafana Bafana.

Having him here at home will definitely get him closer to a few of his mates from the national team and hence help him to gel a bit quicker with them and maybe get to drag a few of them up to the level his outstanding football-brain.

Yet again, for Bra Shakes, its always better to work with a player that he can monitor on a weekly basis. 

I cannot express the joy it brings me to be on this platform, and forget about Mr Neal Collins for a moment, this wouldn't be possible without you.

Whether you're GLAMOROUS, or you've got your thumbs and index fingers up, or maybe even crossing your arms, this one was for you. And I wouldn't mind writing ONE more, TWO more, THREE more or even FOUR more. Even if its to an audience of TEN Men or more. THANK YOU. 

(it's okay Eric, Thilixxo, our previous guest writer, got 200 reads in less than 24 hours!)