I’ll admit here and now that SuperSport
generally remains my first port of call when confronted by the choice between
them and the SABC for live presentations of World Cup soccer matches.
Yes, the much-touted Ryan Giggs, initially
intended as the Randburg juggernaut’s headline expert, has a little
surprisingly scampered home early - officially, the story is to take up
necessary Manchester United duty now that he is Louis van Gaal’s managerial
deputy - after receiving mixed reaction at best to his punditry.
But big-budget SuperSport have nevertheless
left few stones unturned to make their coverage as comprehensive and
professional as possible, with John Dykes a real asset from London as visiting anchor:
articulate, confident and always well prepared.
That said, I have found SABC1 studio
offerings more than tolerable at times, a situation aided in no small measure
by Auckland Park’s sensible (not always a virtue!) recruitment of outgoing
Bafana coach Gordon Igesund just before the tournament began.
A client of Prosport International, he is
still contracted to SAFA until the end of August but of course effectively
dormant in national team terms as we await the naming of his successor.
Whatever your thoughts on his axing, after
a stint holding one of the most poisoned of sporting chalices, his record as a
club coach remains exemplary and I wouldn’t expect him to be idle for long.
And so fresh off the international soccer
treadmill, why not make use of his expertise?
Igesund, unlike the guarded and more
introverted Giggs, is and probably always has been suitably comfortable both
using and listening to his own voice ... a good start in punditry.
I gather he has found it a relief suddenly
not having to justify selections and tactics, and simply being able to become
an independent analyst for purposes of World Cup fare: he’s taken to it
He’ll be in it for the remainder of the
event, active most days even if he will only ever be used for one game on those
where there may be more.
Igesund’s family remains based in Cape
Town, but I understand he is happy to spend much time in Johannesburg for SABC
purposes, given that as Bafana boss he was so often working in the Big Smoke
What does the national broadcaster pay its
studio experts? It is known that guests are paid according to their gravitas or
current appeal, and that some, across a range of sports, will accept a “gig”
for as little as R2 000 or R3 000 per game – relatively easy money, when you
think about it.
But others may want sums into five-figure
territory per appearance, and I’d be surprised if Igesund didn’t fall into that
Rob’s weekend Awesome Foursome:
South Africa v Scotland, rugby Test, Port Elizabeth, Saturday 17:00
SS1 & SHD
Seven overseas-based stars out of the mix,
another couple of inevitable injury woes in the lead-up week ... you’d think
the Boks would be putting out a slightly vulnerable XV against the limited but
so often passionate Scots. On paper, though, the combo Heyneke Meyer eventually
chose still looks, frankly, as though it could post 40 or 50 points against
these moderate foes if the ball bounces kindly and they are collectively
zestful. I’m not sure that scenario will pan out: there are some new
combinations who may take a bit of time to click at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium,
plus a few retained stalwarts like the Du Plessis brothers and Duane Vermeulen
who can’t have much gas left in the tank at the end of June. Yet it will still
surprise me if South Africa – hopefully with Handre Pollard showing off his
array of skills on debut at flyhalf – fail to close this fixture out by around
Brazil v Chile, World Cup soccer, Belo Horizonte, Saturday 18:00
SS3, SHD3 & Maximo
As this was written, a couple of
round-of-16 fixtures remained undecided. But already confirmed as opening match
of the next phase was this all-South American potential cracker. The host
nation can claim to finally be building a bit of steam after a 4-1 demolition
of Cameroon that sharpened their attacking tools. Opponents Chile are a little
hard to read, given their own contrasting group results against 2010 finalists
Spain – they beat the champions 2-0 – and then the Netherlands (lost 2-0). But
for end-to-end possibilities, this one shouldn’t be missed. African interest in
the last 16 begins on Monday when Nigeria face a toughie against the handily
Newcastle United-infused (OK, ignore my parochial piffle) France ...
tennis championships, London, Friday and onward 12:30
SS5, SHD2, SHD5
The only thing I am lamenting about this
year’s Wimbledon – still one of my clear favourites on the bulging annual
sporting roster -- is that it clashes with another significant beast in the
soccer World Cup. I almost want to put the entire Wimbledon on PVR and watch it
for a full fortnight, two or three weeks up the drag. But instead I have done
the inevitable channel-surf thing and tried to keep my reasonable fill of both
events. SW19 is even more of a spectacle when the London sun is shining, and
there’s even been plenty of that so far. So don’t expect any catch-up Sunday
play on the middle weekend. Live crossings on two SuperSport channels thus far
have been at 12:30 and 14:00 SA time.
Waratahs v Brumbies, Super Rugby, Sydney, Saturday 11:40
South African teams only return to Super
Rugby action, at this already advanced staged of ordinary season, next weekend
(just for the sake of reminder: Lions v Rebels, Stormers v Bulls and Cheetahs v
Sharks). But there are some massively important Antipodean fixtures in the
meantime, and I reckon this Aussie derby tops the pile. It features the overall
second-placed Waratahs at home to the fourth-running Brumbies, and will be
nervously watched by the table-topping Sharks, in particular. The best result would
arguably be a low-scoring draw and a mere two log points apiece! Then again, a
‘Tahs victory is more ominous for Jake White’s charges than a Brumbies one, as
it would definitely propel them above the Durban side this weekend. The Canberra
first-round clash back in March was taken 28-23 by the Brums ...
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing