They can’t show every game!
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Cape Town - In this season of such rare levels of Premiership success for Newcastle United, I am as disappointed as other Toon devotees in South Africa (you might be surprised how many of us there are) that the key closing fixture at Everton isn’t being screened on SuperSport.
After all, it is a game which may yet see the Magpies qualify - something that last happened almost 10 years ago - for the lucrative Champions League, although the permutations remain a little stacked against them and I fancy it’ll be Europa League instead. (Still better than a kick in the chops.)
But I also understand SuperSport’s dilemma on this occasion: the now traditional “last Sunday” is marked by all 10 matches kicking off simultaneously (16:00 SA time), which is always going to curtail their ability to show a customary strong spread of them live.
For the record, the games to be broadcast as they happen will be: Manchester City v QPR (SS3 & SHD3), Tottenham v Fulham (Maximo), West Brom v Arsenal (SS5) and Sunderland v Manchester United (SS7). That’s still a big slice of the overall pie.
Of course the inevitable two “Manchester” games are pivotal in deciding the title - and in the case of QPR there is a lingering relegation issue at stake - whilst the matches featuring Spurs and Arsenal have Champs League ramifications, like the Newcastle one.
So all’s fair in love and war, and I imagine Toffees v Toon would have been next cab on the rank had the channel capacity existed - bear in mind that SuperSport have an obligation to satisfy not just football fans!
If there is minor cause for a gripe over the main “missing” live game, it is that supporters of Everton and Newcastle have to wait until the decidedly unfriendly slot of 03:00 on Monday (SS3), according to the last SuperSport schedule I examined, if they really wish to still see that game in full.
But broadly speaking, I am sure many readers concur that we tend to be spoiled rotten for live Premiership matches throughout the season.
My unforgivably Sunderland-mad father-in-law, who visits from the UK annually during our summer and thus the height of the soccer season at home, always assures his friends he is perfectly happy to follow their fortunes while out here, safe in the knowledge that we get more live or sometimes only slightly delayed games than they do - yes, even if they possess the full satellite Monty.
Much of the Premier League’s content service which we see on SuperSport (it launched in August 2010) is anchored by John Dykes, of course, and I consider him competent and astute, even if his co-panellists can vary in quality.
For the little it matters, Dykes preceded me only by a year or two, I gather, on the sports desk of the South China Morning Post newspaper in Hong Kong where I spent a few years in the mid-1990s.
And that was during a prior NUFC mini-heyday, funnily enough ...
Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1. Waratahs v Bulls, Super Rugby
Sydney, Friday 11:40, M-Net, SS1, SHD
Have the Bulls sorted out their defence, while still mindful of the need not to throw away any of their attacking sparkle? That is a question that may well be answered when they face the “second easiest” task of their overseas tour against the ‘Tahs. (The more perilous games certainly appear to lurk in Dunedin and Hamilton, New Zealand, respectively.) They were poor in protecting their own goal-line against the Rebels, and against the likes of big loose forward units Rocky Elsom and Cliffie Palu in this one, must be both more vigilant and more committed. But as indicated yesterday, I do tip the Bulls to clinch this one by around a three-point margin.
2. Mamelodi Sundowns v SuperSport United, PSL soccer
Atteridgeville, Saturday 15:00, SS4, SH2
With two rounds left, the local Premiership season is set for another thrilling finish - as things stand, five teams can reasonably be said to remain in the running, despite Orlando Pirates still holding the aces as they are two points clear of Moroka Swallows at the top. Pirates face Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on Saturday, not the easiest of asks, but arguably the most attractive proposition is the make-or-break (for both) tussle between third-placed Sundowns and fourth-placed SuperSport United at Lucas Moripe Stadium: a draw does neither any favours at all so a “go for it” game ought to be in prospect. No guarantee in such tense times, of course ... 3. Stormers v Cheetahs, Super Rugby
Cape Town, Saturday 19:10, M-Net, SS1, SHD
This could be a really good game ... and hopefully streets better than last year’s corresponding clash at Newlands, when the Stormers won 21-15 (Peter Grant and Naas Olivier respectively amassed all the points via the boot). The Cheetahs remain underdogs - I see them losing with the consolation of a bonus point - but they are also among relatively few sides in the competition with the potential on a particularly up-tempo, eaten-their-oats kind of day to unlock even the most miserly of defences. And of course the Stormers’ is exactly that ...4. Manchester City v QPR, English Premiership soccer
Manchester, Sunday 16:00, SS3 & SHD3
Whatever your thoughts on the eternally-popular Premiership, a lasting hallmark is the at least fair prospect that any team can beat any other on a good day. (Think Wigan!) It will keep the red half of Manchester “hopeful” against mounting odds that QPR - their own not inconsiderable incentive a point to ensure safety - can hold champions-in-waiting City for a possible dramatic rewrite of the 2011/12 script. (Of course there is also no guarantee that United beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light!) The longer this particular game stays goalless, the more nerves will play a role, I’m sure ... but if the Blues net early we could see a hatful from them.