SABC, SuperSport toe to toe
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
For sheer, beefy volume of coverage, including every on-field moment live, national broadcaster the SABC and satellite provider SuperSport are jumping over each other to trumpet their plans for South Africa-hosted AFCON 2013.
I suppose in many ways that is the easy part: clinching the actual rights deal and knowing you will be screening wall-to-wall football over the course of 32 matches.
But quality of analysis and other aspects like off-field creativity and freshness of presentation will probably be the key to judging which juggernaut goes about the overall task better.
As is so often the case, SuperSport’s public relations machine has been more prolific than the SABC’s - for the latter’s rah-rah, I find most often that you have to visit their websites because there is no guarantee they will bombard you with advance email hype.
Quite obviously it is gratifying in simplest terms that SABC will genuinely be “reaching the nation” with this event, and I fancy that their biggest challenge may be to prevent their offering from being too tacky – for instance, if they allow inane strips of public Twitter/SMS-type utterances to run too constantly across the bottom of the screen during matches I know I will be exercising my own right to seek alternative broadcasts in a great hurry.
Or am I being naive and grumpy, and chronically under-rating the extent to which “young” audiences, for instance, enjoy this kind of sideshow banter?
I suspect also that traditionally big-spending SuperSport may have an advantage in terms of “expert pundits”; they do trawl far and wide for their personalities and AFCON 2013 seems no different.
The Randburg organisation will also have an edge in terms of being able to present more round-the-clock AFCON coverage and angles, given their various dedicated sports channels plus the advantage of high-definition options throughout.
They are enthusing over the presence, as analysts, of such names as Sunday Oliseh, Sammy Kuffour, Benni McCarthy and Ruud Gullit.
Dutch legend Gullit is an indisputably great footballing name on paper, but he can also be a moody, egotistical character by reputation (in fairness, a problem that has stalked potentially great Dutch national sides for decades!) and I have no idea what his TV skills are like.
And I imagine SuperSport will be greatly relieved if he deftly sidesteps becoming another possible “Edgar Davids” for lethargy and disinterest after the latter was commissioned presumably at some expense for World Cup 2010.
Eccentric Edgar ended up getting the chop after some wags wondered, frankly, what he’d been smoking at the studios ... Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1. South Africa v Cape Verde Islands, AFCON soccer
Johannesburg, Saturday 18:00, SABC1, SS4, SHD2 & Maximo
Gordon Igesund’s reasonably extended silly season as Bafana head coach is over. Yes, a plethora of friendlies certainly isn’t the ideal way to gauge a team’s true credentials – so here, at last, is the proper barometer. South Africa’s mostly dismal performance in the premier African competition (either in qualifying processes or in tourneys-proper) since heady ’96 is a heavy cross for the current crop to carry but I am surprisingly confident that, with the unfashionable islanders unnerved by crowd of up to 90,000 on the Highveld, the national side will get off on a victorious note. Frankly, most Bafana supporters won’t care if a scrappy, ungainly own-goal settles things our way! Whatever the quality of performance, relief at a winning start would be so, so tangible ... 2. South Africa v New Zealand, first ODI cricket
Paarl, Saturday 10:00, SS2, SHD4 & CSN
Following Gary Kirsten’s interesting revelation to assembled scribes at a Constantia team training session on Thursday that fresh-faced (and slightly fiery?) Quinton de Kock will probably keep wicket for the series, there is an additional incentive to see just how effectively the Proteas machine purrs against the Black Caps. The first of the three games also takes place in the beautiful Boland, in the shadow of the DuToitskloof mountains, where a bumper crowd is tipped despite the New Zealanders’ woeful display in the Test portion of the tour. They say the shorter the format, the closer it brings teams together when they otherwise look slightly mismatched on paper: but I suspect that some element of “scarring” is still going to affect some of the visiting troops, who may already have one foot on the flight home emotionally. 3. Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United, English Premiership soccer
London, Sunday 18:00, SS3 & SHD3
For the second weekend on the trot in the Premiership, there’s a bit of a “Super Sunday” in store – this enticing fixture at White Hart Lane, where pretty high-riding Spurs may at least fancy their chances of not losing to the currently runaway leaders, is the main event at 18:00. Given the Red Devils’ admirable consistency, my own inclination is to suspect they may again earn all three points. Preceding this clash is a London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge (15:30): the Blues will be seething about surrendering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with lowly Southampton in midweek and may take it out on the defensively still-iffy Gunners ...4. Angola v Morocco, AFCON soccer
Johannesburg, Saturday 21:00, SABC1, SS4, SHD2 & Maximo
I chose this one as another AFCON attraction to keep a particularly keen eye on, on the obvious basis that these are the other teams in Bafana’s group – many South Africans ought to stay at least reasonably glued to the second fixture of the opening-day double-header at the National Stadium as a result. But there are other decent games over the next few days: Ghana’s Port Elizabeth date on Sunday, 17:00, with Congo DR ought to be a colourful affair (anyone remember the amazing extra vibrancy the Black Stars’ supporters brought to the 2010 World Cup up to an advanced stage?), whilst defending champions Zambia open their tournament account against Ethiopia at Mbombela Stadium on Monday, 17:00.