S'Busiso Mseleku

Boring football v entertaining game

2015-05-04 12:51
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
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 football"?

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.

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.

Read more on:    s’busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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