Mark Gleeson

Mphela hits back at boo boys

2011-11-14 07:27
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)

Mark Gleeson

One of the highlights of Saturday’s game in Port Elizabeth was Katlego Mphela’ immediate reaction after scoring another of his long-range free kicks.

While there was a jubilant relief about the celebrations for the rest of the Bafana Bafana squad, Mphela went straight over the supporters to basically tell them where to get off. There is a better term to describe it in the South Africa lexicon that starts with the word “voet”.

It was not the most dignified reaction to the barracking he had received from the spectators before the goal but must have been one of immense satisfaction. And understandable too.

Mphela imitated the boo boys who had been seeking his replacement, from as early as just before half-time and continuing after the intervals. The hands raised head high with one hand circling the other is the long established signal from the crowd that they feel a substitution is necessary, usually when their team is losing.

Mphela was the latest victim of this well established but ugly side of the local game.

But for all the derision, the fickleness of the fans was not better illustrated as they all rose from their seats in unison to celebrate a rasping thunderbolt from Mphela that earned the national team a 1-1 draw with the top ranked Ivorians.

Mphela was having none of it, however. He made it clear with dismissive gestures of his own just what he thought of the crows.

South Africans stands are filled with amateur coaches who have little understanding of the game yet feel free to hurl abuse on players that do not catch their eye. The worst was the torrent of derision that was hurled at August Makalakalane during the 1996 African Nations Cup finals and the way Chiefs fans turned on new signings Glen Jordens in the mid-80s without affording him any time to settle. They directed the same venom just the other day on Lucky Baloyi, ironically after he had scored two goals in the previous two games. How stupid!

Too many players have had their confidence damaged, indeed destroyed, by idiots in the crowd whose understanding of the culture, philosophy and indeed tactics of the game is close to zero.

In recent years South African football has rid itself of the habit of throwing missiles onto the pitch when spectators are displeased with decisions. Now it is time to stamp out these horrid individual attacks on players too.

The game itself confirmed Bafana’s inability to mix it in with the big boys. Had the Angolan referee not cheated the Ivorians would have had a first half penalty and been 2-0 up by the break. That would have been ‘game, set and match’.

I did not see the point of bringing on George Lebese four minutes into stoppage time for a free cap. It is demeaning the value of an appearance for the national team.

And let Pitso Mosimane never again moan about not having enough time with his players. By letting eight of the senior players sit out Tuesday’s match in Zimbabwe he is depriving himself of a chance to build a settle unit. As national coach he only gets a limited number of games a year, but now wants to experiment? Steven Pienaar, for example, will now have just one more international break from his English club to play for Bafana Bafana before June’s start of the World Cup qualifiers.

The only positive about resting the star players is that if South Africa lose in Harare, there is now an excuse.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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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