The debate around the South African style of football
has been raging on for years.
Many still believe that the South African brand of
football is the entertaining, mjikejo with a lot of shibobos and tsamayas.
However, some believe that is what has contributed to
South African football remaining in the backwaters of the global game.
Those who push this argument, point to the lack of success at the international level
for both our national teams, clubs and even individual players who still fail
to crack it into the top leagues of the world.
And then comes in Briton Stuart Baxter. The coach has
guided Kaizer Chiefs to two Absa Premiership titles in three seasons.
The club - particularly this season - has been accused
by its detractors of playing a bland
type of football that has been described as "boring".
Interestingly this is how Jose Mourinho's Chelsea
approach to the game has been labeled in England and look where they are,
securing the league title with a few games to spare ala Chiefs.
And looking at the unbridled jubilation of the two
sets of fans when their clubs achieved this, they did not complain.
And for good measure, Chiefs have two trophies to
boast of this season having grabbed the MTN8 earlier in the season, via their
familiar solitary goal win over their arch-rivals Orlando Pirates.
I don't think the bosses are complaining either but
guess they are busy giving Baxter a huge pat at the back just as ... Abramovich
is doing at Chelsea.
So would we rather play entertaining football with no
desired results or stick with what Baxter and Mourinho call "effective
That's the big question here.
I think the answer lies in what Pep Guardiola has
achieved at Bayern Munich.
For decades, Germans have been known to play football
that heavily relied on precision, which many attributed to the country's affinity
with engineering. The football was bland but productive, proof being the four
World Cups the country has won so far.
But a look at Guardiola's Bayern Munich, who also
clinched the title league with a number of matches to spare, has come as a breath
of fresh air.
The club still relies on precise passing but has added
a bit of the tiki-taka popularised by Barcelona.
The latter are also leading the pack in the Spanish La
Liga being pursued closely by Real Madrid. Still, Barcelona play one of the
most entertaining football in the world being able to maneuver passes inside
some of the tiniest spaces on the field of play.
What a marvel to watch?
Now that Baxter has shown us what results effective
football can bring, it is time we worked on a recipe that will combine this
with some entertainment.
And who know, this might just be the required cure to
the dwindling crowds at our games?
It breaks my heart to see that open fields in
townships are packed every weekend when local games are played but when you
watch professional football, you are greeted by rows and rows of empty seats,
except when the Soweto Derby comes around.
Those who pride themselves on being development-crazy,
should think about perfecting the approach I am suggesting.
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading
sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of
the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is
currently City Press Sports Editor.
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