S'Busiso Mseleku

Calling all strikers from yesteryear!

2015-02-05 13:01
Sport24 columnist S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

What do Marks Maponyane, Shane McGregor, Noel Cousins, Calvin Petersen, Shaun Bartlett, Benni McCarthy, Jerry Sikhosana, Philemon "Chippa" Masinga and the late Moren "Samora" Khulu have in common?

They were all sharpshooters of note who knew where the goals were during their time.

Right now, I think time is ripe for them to come together and form a United SA Strikers Association.

No! Not a group of strikers that litter this country these days who strike from doing anything, but I mean players who can find the back of the net!

This association would help South Africa find a solution to our perennial soccer problem, failure to score goals.

Who can forget Masinga grabbing a hat-trick in the BP Top 8 final against the mighty Kaizer Chiefs in 1991 or his blistering goal against Congo in qualification for Bafana Bafana's maiden Soccer World Cup in France in 1998?

Can anyone deny that it was a marvel to watch a young McCarthy blast four goals against Namibia at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso?

Cousins, Sikhosana and McGregor used to leave defenders and goalkeepers bemused as they scored goals from some of the most unlikely angles. If in doubt, ask one Brian Baloyi!

But alas, whatever conveyor belt that churned them out, seems to have dried up and our players are shooting such blanks that we have a top goal-scorer finishing with a measly 10 goals in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

I found it laughable this week when Kermit Erasmus, one of our "top strikers" who has found the net a mere seven times in 19 outings for Orlando Pirates this season, made excuses for why they were failing.

“If you are playing for Pirates against the so-called smaller teams, most of these teams park the bus and that is difficult to break down as a striker,” he told KickOff.com.

Erasmus went on to say that strikers from the other clubs (not Pirates and Chiefs) have better chances to score because the other cubs are not ultra-defensive when playing against them.

"If you look at (Puleng) Tlolane he is on eight goals because no teams sit back against Polokwane City, so that is why he is getting into those areas to score goals. For us as a team at Pirates, a lot of teams sit back when playing against us. They know we will dominate possession so all they want to do is catch us on the break.”

I disagree!

If this was the case, players from the "so-called smaller teams" - Erasmus' words not mine - would be bulging the back of the net week in and week out and we would be having them bag the top goal-scorer award season after season.

Erasmus and co. must just admit they are failing in their duties, hence South African football is in dire straits.

If this indeed was the case, the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Francesco Totti, Alexander Meier, Arjen Robben and Alexis Sanchez would not be top scorers in the tough Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga and the English Premiership that are league's with some of the toughest and well-organised defences in the world.

Our strikers just need to polish up their skills to be able to beat defences.

It is for this reason that I am calling on Maponyane and his peers to form this association. Go around the country visiting schools and academies to impart their knowledge on how to score goals.

This is just one of the ways that this problem can be addressed.

It is really a pressing matter that needs national action or else our national teams will continue to fire blanks and in the process fail to make any impact on the international front.

As the saying goes, you get out as much as you put in.

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.

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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