George Dearnaley

Champions League tickets please

2008-09-05 04:08

George Dearnaley

There's been a lot said and written about the recent Bafana coaching merry-go-round, and I waited to see what the developments would lead to before making my comments.

I agree with the principle that Carlos Alberto Parreira's replacement should share the same coaching philosophy and mentality. So my initial comments, before the announcement of his replacement, where that we should get another Brazilian coach. But I was thinking more in the Zico, Socrates, or Rivellino mould!

However, I think it is important that the replacement coach does not tamper too much with the work that has been done, and so in Joel Santana, we have a replacement that is indebted to his predecessor, who will not make too many changes to the work already done, and is our coach for the 2010 Soccer World Cup - like it or not.

I for one am giving him my full support ahead of his new challenge. It's easy to sit back and criticise and knock, but with just over 111 weeks left to the start of the tournament, it's time we made a decision to be positive, to be supportive and to give our national team our backing.

PSL title down to the wire

It looks like the top three teams in the PSL are all suffering from a case of title-jitters. SuperSport United, Ajax Cape Town and Santos are all competing for the league championship, but continue to drop points as they get nearer to the end of the season.

I think it will go down to the last game, and it makes for one of the most exciting league finishes in recent times. It wasn't too long ago when Chiefs and Pirates fought for the league title on the last game of the season and the trophy was kept in a helicopter flying between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

I have also seen an improvement in the quality of football dished up in recent weeks. There is better passing and movement off the ball, even the finishing has improved. Unfortunately some of the defending is still pathetic, with players diving into tackles, goalkeepers making basic mistakes and a complete lack of communication among defenders in general. We have a lot of basics to improve upon if the standard of our league is to compete with the top 20 in the world.

Champions League drama

I did some TV work for the recent Manchester United v Barcelona match and I must admit it is a nightmare for me to watch United games with other people. It sounds pathetic, but I need to focus on the match and being distracted by other people during a crucial Champions League semi-final is no fun.

I had Mark Fish in the studio with me, winding me up and shouting for Barca! Fortunately Paul Scholes's wonderful 30 yard strike was enough for United to go through to the final. I kept 'seeing' Thierry Henry scoring a late equaliser as United sat back and defended their lead - luckily for all United supporters, Barca's attack was a bit toothless on the night.

The other semi between Chelsea and Liverpool was a cracker. It's easy to be an expert after the fact, but I think Benitez made a terrible mistake in not playing Peter Crouch at some stage during the match. The 6-foot-7 target man has been in rich goal scoring form, is a handful for defenders, wins everything in the air, and would have caused Chelsea plenty of problems.

I guess that at 1-1 after 90 minutes Benitez would argue that he had done everything right on the night, but Liverpool should have been fresher in extra-time after resting their top players on the weekend, but it was Chelsea who were the stronger team in the additional 30 minutes.

It makes for a fantastic final in Moscow. I've booked my air ticket and am on the scrounge for match tickets now! I just hope I'm not left feeling blue in Red Square at the end of the match...

  • George is the associate publisher of Kick Off magazine and represented South Africa during the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

  • Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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