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Giggs in SA: Mixed views

2014-06-20 06:14

Cape Town - Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, 40, was recruited with great fanfare – and no doubt attached formidable cost – to spearhead SuperSport’s multi-pronged punditry panel for World Cup 2014.

Roughly a week into his contract, has he been worth the effort?

I have found myself neither bowled over nor glaringly underwhelmed by his work thus far in the Randburg studio alongside an array of other soccer personalities, both domestic and foreign and with differing commands of the English language.

Considering that this has been his first significant foray into TV analysis - the now assistant manager’s playing career lasted a standout 23 years or so at Old Trafford - I guess you have to allow some room for acclimatisation, and Brazil 2014 does have another few weeks to run.

So far, I have found Giggs a little more guarded and economical with words than I probably expected, although that may change with increased confidence as the World Cup progresses: you get the sense that supremely polished and professional anchor John Dykes has to rather coax opinions out of him.

He’ll say something relevant and then ... well, kind of peter out: “That’s the save of the tournament so far and ... erm, yeah, great save.”

That observation made, you don’t necessarily have to be a motor-mouth to make intelligent points, do you?

I asked some of my Twitter followers this week for thoughts on Giggs’ recruitment and found their views not dissimilar to my mixed bag; here’s a smattering of them:

*”Giggsy will grow in confidence, but too many pundits – not necessary!”

*”John Barnes has been top-class. Giggs just below Europa level. Doc (Khumalo) ... the less said the better.”

*”I’d like him to be more animated. Speaks in a monotone. Comments spot-on, though.”

*”Got as much life as a plastic bag.”

*”Will grow into the role. Not been that exciting yet but is drawcard. Barnes and Dykes are class.”

A common thread seems to be greater approval level for former England star Barnes, although never forget that he is an altogether more seasoned a pundit and been a prolific presence on SuperSport before.

As with his illustrious playing career, might a bit of Giggs magic be just around the corner?

Rob’s weekend Awesome Foursome:

1. South Africa v Wales, 2nd rugby Test, Nelspruit, Saturday 15:00

M-Net, SS1 & SHD

You have to hand it to Heyneke Meyer: his powerful reminders of “pride in the jersey” and the like have ensured that the Boks look a vibrant force thus far in the June window period, despite the terrible wear and tear associated with Super Rugby in the immediate lead-up. It will take a swing of note for Wales to hit back and level the series at Mbombela Stadium, which will hopefully look more tightly-packed than Kings Park did for the Willie le Roux Show last time out. Much has been made of how much the ball was in play in the breathless Durban game, but if that has taken a toll on the Boks you can be assured the battered Welsh will have felt it too! It should be South Africa (never beaten by these foes on our shores) by a fairly comfortable margin again ... say 12-14 points this time?

2. Ghana v Germany, World Cup soccer, Fortaleza, Saturday 21:00

SABC1, SS3, SHD3 & Maximo

OK, a bit of African bias with this selection, but why not? The Black Stars were many South Africans’ adopted second team after Bafana bravely exited at the group stage in 2010, and started the latest World Cup with good SA backing once more, following the way they were “Suarezed” out of the event four years ago. Regrettably there is talk of grumpiness in the Ghanaian ranks in Brazil, which may go some way to explaining the 2-1 reverse first up to the United States. So the challenge of the mighty Germans has become a must-not-lose affair for the West Africans: will they have the ability plus desire to get a result against the European juggernaut that keeps their hopes of advancing alive? I can’t see it myself, sadly ...

3. South Africa v England, IRB Junior World Championship rugby final, Friday 09:35

SS1, CSN & SHD

“BMT” ... that’s something the latest Baby Bok outfit have in abundance, and it goes some way to explaining how they managed to knock over hosts New Zealand twice (a significant feat) en route to the showpiece clash with defending champions England. Yet it is quite possible they are about to hit their sternest obstacle: their opponents may well match them – at the very least – both for power in the pack and X-factor in the backline. My own wish is that Handre Pollard’s side mix up their play more than they did in the last encounter with the Baby Blacks, where they so nearly came a cropper and probably relied too much on a blunt-instrument approach. It’s hard to predict who’ll win, given that both sides played completely different opponents all the way to the final. Can we produce that cool-headedness I mentioned just one more time?

4. Portugal v United States, World Cup soccer, Manaus, Sunday 23:59

SABC1, SS3, SHD3 & Maximo

The steamy Arena Amazonia hosts another important game late on Sunday as Portugal face a door-die sort of fixture in Group G after their inglorious 0-4 thumping at the hands of the Germans to launch their tournament disastrously. If goal difference is later going to enter the equation, Cristiano Ronaldo and company may well need a better outcome than a draw here against foes heartened by their own, contrasting win against Ghana. They might well be stung into atonement action; do keep in mind that they are nine slots higher, in fourth, on the Fifa rankings than the US are.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on: swc 2014 rob houwing soccer

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