George Dearnaley

Congratulations are in order

2008-09-05 04:35

George Dearnaley

Firstly let me congratulate Gavin Hunt, Tommy Madigage and the SuperSport team for their fantastic achievement this season. Winning the Premiership in only your 10th year is some achievement and the rest of the PSL teams (perhaps Ajax and Wits aside) can learn some important lessons from this years champions.

SuperSport are run professionally. The only people you see in the news are the coach and the players. I bet most South African soccer fans don't even know who the chairperson is! This is actually the way it should be.

Hunt arrived at the beginning of the season and inherited a team that had some decent success in the cups, and had been close on a few occasions in the league, but hadn't quite had enough steam at the end to win the title.

Both SuperSport and Ajax have fantastic youth academies, with links to international clubs. There is no doubt that this development programme has played its part in the success of these two teams this season.

Thrills and spills

"Hunty" as he is known, is a solid, almost predictable coach. You know that his teams will work hard, are organised defensively, play for each other, get the ball wide and get it into the area. This is not rocket science, but it takes a serious measure of discipline to get every player on the same page of the coaching manual for an entire season, and that is what they have achieved this season.

SuperSport and Ajax, together with Santos, have ensured that the local soccer fan has had a season of thrills and spills right up to the last round of matches. The fact that SuperSport actually lost their last match, but still held on to their points advantage, is testament to a league that has very few weak teams. Ajax fought back from two goals down away to Golden Arrows, but their 2-2 draw was not enough at the end of the campaign.

I'm sure Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns will be out with the cheque books during the transfer window, and although money can buy some success, it is long-term planning and development that is the ultimate prize for our local clubs.

A goal made in Africa

I watched the recent FA Cup final between Portsmouth and Cardiff and although it wasn't the greatest match ever, it was an absorbing contest that had me on the edge of my seat a few times, as the Championship team from Wales, tried to outsmart their Premiership opponents.

Initially I thought Harry Redknapp was very negative with his 4-5-1 formation, but he challenged Cardiff to break them down at the back, knowing he had enough up front to get at least one goal.

And the goal that won the match was made and finished in Africa. Nigeria to be more specific. John Utaka whipped in a dangerous cross from the right, and when the Cardiff goalkeeper spilled it, the long legs of Nwankwo Kanu were there to steer the ball into an empty net. It's the second year in a row that an African has got the winner Chelsea's Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba getting the only goal against Manchester United in last season's final.

Kanu has great touch and is actually one of the most entertaining football players you will ever watch. I sense that he doesn't have much time left at the top, but he has been a wonder to watch during his career.

  • George is the associate publisher of Kick Off magazine and represented South Africa during the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

  • Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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