Rob Houwing

E-TV still lagging ...

2009-10-23 08:11
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Sofa, so good - Rob Houwing’s TV sport column

I chose the “cheap seat”, if you like - public broadcaster - over the subscription offering on SuperSport 7 of wobbly Liverpool’s Champions League match against Olympique Lyonnais in midweek.

And although it is very gratifying that ‘e’ is able to bring top-notch football to a broader audience, I was still left with the distinct impression that SuperSport simply do it better.

They are advantaged, it is true, by their broader pool of studio pundits in Johannesburg and sheer volume of soccer coverage on a variety of fronts, which means their presenters get infinitely greater “practice makes perfect” opportunities.

That said, there remains room for to spruce up their Cape Town-based act a bit.

Tuesday’s slot had now-customary anchor Gershawn Coetzee assisted in analysis by veteran ex-Kaizer Chiefs (and several other clubs) coach Sergio dos Santos and Edries Burton, the Bafana Bafana defender who made a club-record 409 starts for his beloved Santos.

And although their general soccer observations on the night were sound - Liverpool suffered a shock 2-1 loss for their fourth defeat on the trot in all competitions, a fate last experienced 22 years ago - I suspected that for pre-match homework they are outdone by the likes of Andre Arendse, Terry Paine and company on SuperSport.

As a long-suffering Newcastle United supporter (we lost to Scunthorpe on the same night, which says a lot) I could hardly suppress a snigger when the panel pointed out beforehand that Lyon were missing a key player in Jean-Alain Boumsong!

The central stopper, of course, was legendarily gaffe-prone during his days at St James’s Park: a bit of a YouTube legend, you could say.
Burton made a good point in saying confidence-shorn Liverpool had all too obviously tried to “sit” on their one-goal lead at the break, and generally looked “a team out of sorts”.

Dos Santos was more cutting in his post-mortem: “Without Torres and Gerrard and with Xabi Alonso (departed) they look vulnerable and mediocre … almost a mid-table sort of Premiership side.”

As for chief presenter Coetzee, he rather blew hot and cold. He clearly has a high passion for football, as evidenced by his apparent days on the books of Cape Town Spurs as a Colts (U19) player.

But he makes inconsistent eye contact with the camera, sometimes looking down excessively at his supporting notes.

He also continued a penchant I’d noticed before of describing half-time scores as “results”. As long as I’ve been a sports fan, a result has always been an outcome of a completed fixture.

Then he is also guilty of occasional inane remarks, while perusing midway scores throughout Europe, like: “What an exciting first half in all the matches.” (Er, how would he know that?)

Somehow Coetzee seems more at ease and articulate when he presents the sports update segments on’s news channel on DStv. Perhaps improved live-game confidence is in the mail, as they say …

Rob’s awesome foursome:

1 Twenty20 Champions League cricket final
Hyderabad, Friday 16:30, SS2 & CSN

This was penned prior to knowing whether the Cape Cobras had ensured South African interest in the showpiece game against New South Wales (still my favourites for the crown, whether they play Trinidad & Tobago or the Cobras). Whoever lifts the maiden honours, I concur with respected critic Peter Roebuck that the event has generally been a success. In his Cricinfo slot, Roebuck said the Champions League had been “thoroughly enjoyable … alive and full of sharp edges.” In terms of its (sometimes questioned) gravitas, he noted: “Many of its participants have spent their entire careers playing in empty stadiums that seem to echo with irrelevance … don’t tell these chaps the Champions League did not matter.” Quite.

2 Absa Currie Cup rugby promotion-relegation matches
Wellington, Saturday 15:30 & Potchefstroom 17:30, SS1

OK, I may stand accused of scraping the barrel. But rugby fans, facing a hiatus until next Saturday for the Currie Cup final, have got to find a weekend fix somewhere, and it comes in the lukewarm form of first-round promotion-relegation scraps. Of course these games have big financial and other repercussions for the protagonists. The first pits the Cavaliers against the Pumas at Wellington, followed quickly by Leopards v Eagles at ‘Potch’. I can’t help thinking that the Premier Division won’t necessarily be strengthened by the Pumas or Eagles returning to the top flight, and there is talk of a leaner, strength-versus-strength future format anyway … bad news for the entire gaggle of little ‘uns?

3 Golden Arrows v Ajax Cape Town, MTN8 soccer final
Soweto, Saturday 20:00, SS4

Question: just how many of the good folk of Soweto will drag themselves to Orlando Stadium for this showpiece featuring respective giant-killing clubs? Nevertheless, new faces in a major final isn’t the worst thing if you have no special partiality toward the Chiefs/Pirates/Sundowns sort of juggernauts. This will be Arrows’ first exposure to so high-profile an occasion, so maybe smart money rests with Ajax, already coming under the influence of Dutch guru Foppe de Haan although he hasn’t officially taken charge yet. They’re slightly higher on the PSL table, too, if you seek a further yardstick.

4 Liverpool v Manchester United, English Premiership soccer
Anfield, Sunday 16:00, SS3 & HD

Nightmare! At least for under-fire Rafa Benitez, this one is. Liverpool, stung by a run of four defeats across the competitions and riddled with injuries to truly crucial players, almost certainly don’t relish playing their bitter rivals, and the defending champions, at this juncture. Mind you, they did the double over United last season (2-1 at Anfield and a remarkable 4-1 at Old Trafford) so there’s that to hearten them a tad.

Mind you, after last week’s beach-ball fiasco at Sunderland, Cape Town pundit Sergio dos Santos suggested on this week that the visiting fans are likely to taunt ‘Pool with a hearty rendition of Nena’s old hit “99 Red Balloons” …


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