S'Busiso Mseleku

Excitement in SA football!

2014-08-25 12:01
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
The past weekend has generated a high level of excitement in South African football.

Well, there are two reasons for this.

One: On Friday, Shakes Mashaba stuck to his word and dismantled Bafana Bafana when he announced his squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Sudan and Nigeria next month.

Two: Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates emphatically won their MTN8 semi-final matches on Saturday and Sunday, setting up a mouth-watering Soweto Derby final for September 20.

Mashaba's announcement was highly anticipated after he declared to break down Bafana and build them from scratch.

There had been a lot of complaints about the current squad with even Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula at some stage asking what the current crop of players had done for the country.

So on Friday when Mashaba announced a squad that only has goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and defender Anele Ngcongca from the team that played at the 2010 Soccer World Cup and five players from the current Under-20 national team - there was jubilation all round.

Mashaba - the nation's favourite - had scored some kudos and earned even more respect by doing away with the tried and tested (some calls them the tired and rested) who had become deadwood.

The new team selected by the coach is full of promise. Its announcement has caused a lot of excitement  and anticipation within the soccer fraternity.

Besides the five Under-20 players in the team, Mashaba also included  a host of untested players who are in sizzling form on the domestic league, most of whom he has worked in the junior teams.

It is now up to the players to show what they can do when they come up against Sudan away on September 5 and African champions Nigeria in Cape Town on September 10.

On the domestic football front, chances are that when you meet somebody in the street spotting a smile as wide as the Pacific or singing in the rain, chances are that they are a Chiefs or Pirates supporter.

The two clubs scored five goals each over their semi-final opponents to book a place in the 2014 MTN8 final.

On Saturday, Pirates recorded a 3-1 victory over Bidvest Wits for a 5-1 aggregate after winning the first leg 2-0. Chiefs followed with an emphatic 3-0 walloping of Platinum Stars at FNB Stadium on Sunday for a 5-0 aggregate.

The two will meet in the final for the umpteenth time.

They have  dominated this competition since its inception in the early 1970s and have won it 23 times between them.

Chiefs have won it 14 times and Pirates nine times with the other closest clubs having just won it three times each.

This shows the dominance of the two Soweto giants on the domestic game and proves why they still attract the biggest crowd whenever they meet.

You can rest assured that the final will be a sold-out affair which is just music to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and sponsors' ears.

The competition - contested for by the eight clubs that finish at the top end of the league the previous season - is one of the oldest on the domestic calendar and has undergone several name changes depending on the sponsor.

With both Chiefs and Pirates in top form at this early stage of the season, expect a thriller of a final as rivalry between these two clubs has never been in doubt since Amakhosi broke away from The Sea Robbers in 1970.

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:    bafana bafana  |  s’busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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