Tumo Mokone

Cup ties to induce tears

2008-10-24 08:32
Sport24 columnist Tumo Mokone (File)
Tumo Mokone

Football fans are a fickle lot. The South Africa situation presents an extreme case, whereby fans can condemn and approve the same kind of mediocrity with equal levels of passion.

Take the case of Kaizer Chiefs for example. This team started the season without a recognised striker, and a dodgy defence. Because of this reality, they have three points to show for their first four matches of the league championship. But somehow Amakhosi managed to win the first cup title of the season - the MTN 8. Though their shortcomings as a team were exposed in the final against Mamelodi Sundowns, Chiefs fans celebrated without questioning the bad football their team played in that match.

Last week Chiefs received a mighty kick in the butt, as they fell 4-1 to Golden Arrows in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout. The same fans who celebrated for weeks for the MTN 8 triumph - on penalties after scoreless 120 minutes - are crying foul. Naturally they blame the coach, criticising him for letting go of players who were clearly surplus material for a club of Chiefs stature.

Before their emphatic 3-0 win over AmaZulu on Wednesday, Sundowns too found themselves in the same predicament. Their situation aggravated by the fact that their own chairperson, Patrice Motsepe, was in the foul mood with the team's early season form. Though Motsepe's ire is driven by business interest in his club, it is the football fan in him that at times makes him sound like a regular supporter.

It is no surprise that the boss was clearly pleased with the win over AmaZulu, and his Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 coach can relax a bit. But everything may change in the next game, depending on the result.

Serious consequences

Sundowns host rookies Bay United in their Telkom Knockout first round match on Saturday. Motsepe is known for his desire to dominate cup competitions, something his club has failed at despite their domination in the league championship over the years.

Defeat to United at home may have serious consequences, more so after the man known as "The President" announced on Thursday that he has decided to hire an "international technical man" to be team manager.

Speaking at the announcement of the new sponsorship deal with Chrysler/ Dodge, Motsepe said the new person would come at a "high price". He added that the duties of the intended team manager would be to "help choose the squad, and the team will generally function below him". Though he added the new recruit will work closely with coach Trott Moloto, past experience in the local game makes this announcement suspicious, if not "dodgy".

Already there are too many cooks there, with Sundowns technical director Ted Dumitru also said to be close to team matters. With a third man coming soon, it will not be clear who the chief chef will be in the Sundowns kitchen. Time will tell, especially for Moloto. In the meantime, his team better not lose to Bay United tomorrow night!

There are even bigger problems at Orlando Pirates, who have no wins in any competition this season. Though coach Ruud Krol says he does not feel the pressure, a few missiles and insults have been thrown at him by frustrated fans in the past. He may be singing a different tune on the weekend if his under-performing team fail against high-riding Thanda Royal Zulu FC.

Bucs travel to Durban for this cup fixture on Sunday. Defeat will mean Pirates would have to wait until 2009 to stand a chance of winning something this season. Club chairperson Irvin Khoza has so far shown altruistic support for his man, which is good of him to stand by his decision to hire him in the first place. But the club is now the laughing stock of the local game. It remains to be seen how long he will hold out for Krol, who clearly looks out of sorts at Pirates.

Thanda Royal Zulu FC sensationally beat Pirates at the same stage of the competition last season. At that time the Durban-based outfit was struggling in their first season in the elite season. They are a different side today, and enjoying better results than their more celebrated foes. Bucs fans are known to dance a storm at the beginning of a match, and cry tears at the end. I am afraid this time Krol may drown in their tears.


However, for true fans of excellence in football, the match-up between Moroka Swallows and Wits in Rustenburg should be the fixture of the weekend. The two teams represent what is good about enterprising football (Swallows) and technical discipline (Wits). In essence, this will be flair versus technique affair - something like Brazil v Italy. Both approaches demand a lot of discipline because silky skills do not guarantee success, as was seen as Italy win the last World Cup while the flashy Brazilians returned home to heal their wounded ego.

Even more interesting is that Swallows are coached by a Brazilian Julio Cesar Leal, and the Birds have the players with the required swagger. Wits on the other hand are coached by Roger de Sa, who has the special talent to use limited resources of small clubs profitably. He was not named the PSL coach of the month for September for good looks - his team are joint-log leaders without a defeat in four matches. Even more remarkable is the fact that Wits have not conceded a goal this season.

The added spice is that both Leal and De Sa are Portuguese-speaking, which is fast becoming the language of SA football, with Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana also thinking in Portuguese for strategic ideas.

Tumo writes exclusively for Sport24.

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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