Thursday, May 31, 2012

A look at the English Premier League.

I will not waste energy on the Paris Saint German's claimed £120 million bid for Wayne Rooney, nor the Robin van Persie's confirmed extended stay a sterile Arsenal. Rather, I will dwell on a rather bizarre deal Liverpool intend to make.

The Merseyside team were a laughing stoke a few months back. The man who took them out of that mud was sacked. Funny enough they have had a series of interviews with a chain of known and unknown coaches.

Not that I am bitter they are still to come to me, but surely, if Kenny Daglish's antics were not good enough after winning the Carling Cup and reaching the FA Cup final. What do you go to Liverpool to do?

Many thought King Kenny should have done more after spending quite a few millions on players, but frankly, the core of that team is ancient, having been assembled by Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson.

The almost certain arrival of Brendan Rodgers is an interesting one. For once,they approached the man and he refused. They had a series of meeting with some of us and it was all fruitless. They revisited their options with fat-cheque packages and surely, they cannot go wrong with money.

The thing is that, Rodgers plays flowing sleek football. Liverpool do not have the material for his brand. The modern coach may have arm-twisted the ambitions of the under-performing Anfield side to bring in the likes of Sinclair to the Kop.

If Swansea will let go their manager, they have to hold on to their assets like Dyer. Does that mean the American owners will flash a cheque book to the many fancy youngsters like Papiss Cisse of Newcastle United? Time will tell.

Ll we are saying, is that Rodgers is as good as a taxi-driver with that lot Daglish was working with. It is not that there were bad players either. They were the best under the tutelage of King Kenny. Now that the goalpost have shifted, so should be the field of play. We are heading for interesting times ahead.

I was just saying

The last post about how damaging the so-called supporters of Highlanders can be, given how much
negativity can chew up a society of the elite club lovers, has been well-received by many and seen as arrogant and vague by the few. I will not be apologising soon and you will be in for a few more truths, probably hurtful ones too.

I will cut across the plain. Bosso is known by you and me. Adidas, Puma, Nike and Reebok have no clue the club exist. Therefore, as a brand, all the club is, is a nonentity, albeit with potential, but again, that potential is just you and me.

Spanish and Chinese citizens will never affect or be affected by what may become the club even if it wins the Africa Champions League or the Fifa Club World Cup.

Doing business in those countries and marketing the club there has obvious dire consequences. Implications include cross-border business permits and shipment of goods and materials cost extra depending on the form of freight. Time factors make the whole concept cantankerous.

Signing a document tomorrow to lease the name of Highlanders means that I will register my sports brand, say TseSports in the morning and produce replica jerseys in the noon.

Bosso will don a cool new kit by weekend and with the purple patch the tea is enjoying, the stadium will have 40000 fans on Sunday, all in new replica jerseys. Do the mathematics of the profit margins of 35% and split that between TseSports and the club.

The fans in the stadium will buy their girlfriend team branded bras, their toddler children socks and their homes calenders. The proportional growth of the team and club will increase the fan base as jackets and raincoats will bear the club logo.

The worry of payments even from those outside the borders will be a worry of the businessman hunting for business. As a matter of urgency, shipped to anyone the world over will be a piece of cake.

With that project, all membership applications would be handled electronically at the click of a button and on mobile devices. It may already sound like growth, but that is the seeding process.

The numbers growth would then mark the potential of the club. It is the numbers that attract Adidas and company. The activity and cash coming and going out symbolise worthiness and tantalises onlookers band by-standers alike.

There is no problem courting the traditional big names, even though it is a public secret that they will always chase big clubs and countries. If they dumped Liverpool, it gives you a clue. All these larger-than-life brands pay teams donning their kits and it will be a long-while for that to happen, maybe centuries.

So many ways can be followed in utilising what the club is. At this point, it could be a political tool as we have seen how simple it is with Kenya's Harambee Stars of old and the Zambia's KK11.

Striking the sympathy note and the wearing the 'have mercy face' has no room in today's football. You would expect Highlanders results to affect the economy and even exchange rates. Why does it have to be Dynamos first for everyone to think the idea is cool?

Talking of that club, they are reported to have struck a good deal to rent the Rufaro Stadium on a lengthy lease in a move that will see them save around 20% of their gross gate-takings. Assuming that is true, Bosso are taking notes, actually photocopying the idea.

With due respect, that makes one sick to the bone. The pioneering spirit of the people cannot be allowed to be engulfed by the superiority complex that the Mthwakazians are less equal.

That DNA of pride matches the stunted attitude of the region even in a political way. While openly and visibly defiant, there is complete and total submission to be dominated.

That domination-submission relationship transcended from a political situation into football, unfortunately, and expecting the suppressor to be the hero of liberating the oppressed boggles my mind.

The latest issue brought up was that of the coach walking to work. Indeed, he never is said he wanted the car or asked anyone about having one. I can almost guarantee that he was content. As well as that might have been with him, where is a true sense of belonging, if our dear servant's working conditions do not auger well with our expectation?

From a professional approach, the way we claim to be, it must be accepted as an oversight besides the fact that the club has no funds for such a project. To many, the Executive Committee running the affairs of the club is supposed to run around hunting for such.

Personally, I have known those positions to be too taxing and I proposed the association of former players to be tasked with non-core club issues such as these. They need the club mandate to raise funds in the name of the club for the welfare of players and workers, present and former.

The situation brought back exactly what will remain our retardedness, as to who was Kaindu to be given a car. It never crosses the mind that it is not about Kaindu. It is about a Highlanders coach, winning or not. We should go past that very small mentality and grow socially and morally.

Can't we make our own heroes, our own club, football, brands and Bosso? Barcelona belongs and is run by Barcelonians and so should be Bossolona by Bossolonians. Will we ever grow? Well, just asking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who is Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane?

After a social media discussion about how the Highlanders Football Club expatriate coach walked to work, a compassionate heart was touched, and Kelvin Kaindu’s problems will be a thing of the past.

It may not have been a problem with him personally, but for a high-profile team meaning to make an impact in the domestic competition and catch the eyes of sponsors, that arrangement did not auger well with the ambitions of the whole set-up.

From a coaching perspective, as a mentor to the players, it is mandatory to ooz confidence and exhibit superior intellect and prosperity in generous proportions. Not that it is all that matters, but knowing all we do about the Zambian former Bosso winger now, no stoned should not be left unturned.

To help the Highlanders family achieve that, Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane chipped in with a BMW 3 Series that the coaches can use, starting August. E-Diski tracked down the man himself to find out who he really was.

Mabalane is a university student in the United Kingdom, doing his Phd. What strikes the most about him, is the humility. After the greetings and thanking him for his gesture, he expressed the undying love for the team and how much he followed and read e-Diski Blog.

“I am completing my Ph.D. in Law. I lost my father during the 1980s ‘genocide’ and therefore experienced some marginalisation of people in many forms where I grew up. It was even more painful even in football.”

He expressed how God blessed his life in a little way financially while in South Africa as his eyes were opened to assist many footballers from Matebeleland. He nursed the young and old under challenging conditions as they put up at his house and he had to feed them.

“I was married but had to keep them, arrange for trials with ABSA PSL teams. Some made it to Mvela League, the national First Division there. This included some guys from Zambia and the DRC.”

When asked bout the gains he made about his actions and that he must have mad fortunes, he expressed the difficulty of trying to get politics out of his way as he fended for the players. “It is just that I can sacrifice as I know that naked came I into this world and naked I shall return. I never sought any contracts with those I helped, or any form of return.” 

“I just told them that if they are successful, they would help someone else, and to be conscious of who they are, and that God always has a reason for who we are. I am not a businessman but an academic who is actually on unpaid leave for 3 years until the completion of my Ph.D.”

Mabalane implored the people’s unity and said how much necessary it was for the club to benefit from people’s diverse location and capabilities. “I believe if an ordinary person like me can lend a ‘skorokoro’, there are many rich and and blessed guys who can do even more.”

Further details entered between the man and the club were left to be a private arrangement to respect his person and the operation of the club, and any information ripe for public consumption would be delivered on www.tsendex.wordpress.comin due course.

He has been in touch with club Secretary General about the vehicle which will be shipped from the United Kingdom soon.

Mabalane went on length to give the details of the players he helped and their contacts, the subject of which we decided to leave it out of the picture for numerous reasons. What a man. Thanks Mabalane.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Highlanders' Kaindu is a pedestrian

While it came to some as a big surprise, especially those n the diaspora, to others, there was nothing amiss with the Highlanders Football Club coach walking or hiking to work.

The different schools of thought coming from those disappointed by issue, ranged from the level, or lack thereof, professionalism in the country's oldest club which should have been leading the way.

Moreso, the team has been playing well of late and linking that success and the conditions of service seemed natural. However, immaterial as that point should be, the other people's point of view was that the necessity was trivial.

Noted were the points of how Mohammed Fathi bought his own car, and how other great coaches were never afforded the automobiles. It was even pointed out by a few that the club could not afford it. The car-rentals were said to be far out of reach.

Coaches like the late Eddie May, Rahman Gumbo, Dick Chama, Methembe Ndlovu and others did not have the luxury. In my negotiation for a lucrative salary with Amazul once upon a time, Delma Lupepe offered me the use of the coaches' car that only Roy Barretto had used.

His lieutenant in manager Mujuru refused to release the car since Charles Mhlauri had been with them as an assistant and being head-coach, was not afforded the car. That was over 10 years ago and the thought among many had not yet reached its 'sell-by' date.

The discussion ensuing from a Facebook post that Kelvin Kaindu's players drove to work while he relied on his 'footron' attracted a reminder how a car was donated for the Bosso coaches, but was denied by those who saw it as a political gimmick. It emerged that lack of follow-up caused the failure to seal the deal.

The possible connotations of politics was that Kaindu was not a wanted man at Bosso at the beginning of the season, almost leading to his deportation. Given the results that are on the table, it is clear how much behind the coach Peter Dube's Executive is.

Among many comments available on the team's Facebook group, the issue of unity was emphasised and the encouragement to shun factionalism topped the heartfelt indaba.

From the opinions that it did not matter if he walked, that he should have negotiated for a car or transport allowance to start with, to the fact that a car is unimportant as he should just win the matches, and forget about a luxurious life, it was proven how much lack of understanding is in trying to get something out of nothing.

The very mentality of not wanting to fix the problem and expect life to be right was saddening.

The blame game almost ensued with a view that one team of leaders was trying or tried to sabotage another, but at the day of the day, regardless of club finances, history and opinions, a pedestrian coach of a team of the size and stature of Bosso is a huge embarrassment.

Bosso prides itself as the Barcelona of Zimbabwe. If there is no issue with its Pep Guardiola walking the streets, then I do not know what shame is. If the club is a Manchester United, City, Arsenal or Chelsea of Zimbabwe, what is worse than their Arsene Wenger or their Sir Alex Ferguson risking their life walking the dark alleys of Skies?

It did not escape the observation that Mkhuphali Masuku drove a rival coach's car to work. Cooper used the car of Bantu Rovers coach, Methembe Ndlovu to attend to Highlanders' business. He also drove Ariel Sibanda's car.

By the end of the day, it was a heart-warming and pleasurable gesture of Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane to offer his own car, a BMW 3 Series for use by the Bosso coaches. Mabalane, of England, pledged to give away on condition of the club maintaining it and renewing the arrangement annually. While the car could be made available in August, he made contacts with the relevant authorities to iron out the formalities and was hoping to make arrangements even earlier, depending.

That spirit summarised the humanity of the team of coming together and fight a good fight for a god cause. The team spirit exhibited by the team so far, was matched by the fans on the sidelines and hopefully, the beginning of great things.

I pray that some day, we all will realise that one of the major drivers of human success is the desire and ability to help others achieve their dream.” This was a thankful and encouraging note from those who appreciated the gift among many others.

Who exactly is Tshepo Mabalane Mabalane? See it here at tomorrow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Undertaker takes rest

Let us first give many thanks to Benjani Mwariwaru's colourful gift of football from his days as a deadly top-scorer in South Africa before he migrated to ply his trade at Auxere in France before leaving for England. 

His successful testimonial match marking the end of his international career was well attended and quite a huge event.

Notable participants included Lucas Radebe, Yakubu, Kanu, Al Haji Diouf, Peter Ndlovu, Fadinga, Chimbonda, and Painstil among others. In that match, Warriors prevailed 7-4 and his 7 year-old son scoring twice after replacing his father.

Besides raising money for his foundation, the significance of the event was more symbolic as a motivation of the young and upcoming footballers.

All football activities grounded to a halt to honour a great talent, one of the most successful players from Southern Africa who scored on his Manchester derby debut after moving from Portsmouth.

He will remain a legend especially at Pompey as he was much loved and he worked for that acknowledgement. All the best to him and his endeavours. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It shall be well as Bosso blasts Shabanie 2-0

Highlanders proved their growing from strength to strength will not be halted by novices from small towns. As divine intervention sung by the God-fearing coach, Kelvin Kaindu in his 'It shall be well' war-cry, Bosso bulldozed their way past asbestos miners with a comfortable 2-0 victory to maintain an unbeaten run in the Castle Premier League.

A businessman-like Bruce Kangwa performance highlighted a happy afternoon as he became a man of the match with a class act.

Milton Ncube headed the Bulawayo giants ahead to settle the nerves in the first half. The
commitment of the boys pushed the home-team against the wall as a builder pushes the plaster against the bricks.

Graham Ncube volleyed home a Kangwa cross to seal the deal with a spear of the assassin stab. The 'men at work' attitude and secret service ruthless mentality made the team cohesion superior to Shabanie Mine's intimidation on and off the pitch.

Kelvin Kaindu's boys stamped their supreme authority with total confidence and comradeship that will be an envy to many coaches. Revving in top gear from the humble position, Tshilamoya's intentions were never in question as in their last half dozen missions.

The dedication and work ethic consistently proved the winning mentality, as the team played with champion-material class.

As if to prove that Mantengwane needs people who support each other rather than promote the PHD (Pull Him Down) syndrome, that win became a shinning beacon and left a sweet taste in the mouths of jubilation in the fans entering the new era of road-shows of old.

The hosts did not make it easy for Highlanders, who had to keep their cool and composure to play their usual passing and penetrative game. The hearts of lions made the difference as to who wanted it the most.

One can only hope that the family gets the message that the team and club growth means 'no more nappies and porridge'. It is high time the club fed on the meat like all lions.

The time for free peanuts from passers-by should be seeing its last days at Bosso and at this rate, it is destination 'Africa Champions League' next season. The club bosses should be thinking big in preparing for the precarious journey of the jungle where we have been lost more than once.

Lunch boxes will not work and total commitment from the fans and management, as mandatory as it may appear should not be faked. Questions of who is who and their perceived agendas should not be allowed to spoil a good performance.

My naivety is apparent and completely based on a personal discipline that forbids me to urinate on the street due to the feeling that seven billion people are watching me on the big screen. Thinking that everyone has the same attitude and honesty in dealing with public funds distorts the picture and perception of the potential of the club.

With the undeniable love and support of all who love the club with all their hearts and minds, all people west of the 'equator' need to check into rehab straight away to get rid away to negativity addiction especially based on the attitude of  'who is he/she?' 

While the perceived enemy of the club is Dynamos, the truth is that it is the 'lovers of the club'. Whether deliberate or not, that is another story, but for lack of direct English translation of the verneular, let us buy the deodorant.

Elsewhere, it was a stalemate between Motor Action and Dynamos, while Hwange blasted Monomotapa by a 5-1 goal margin. Quelaton and Blue Rangers drew 1-1.

The much-anticipated fixture against Dynamos was rumoured to be penciled for Sunday, but it has been however highlighted that Bosso will be feasting on Chicken Lunch instead. The Harare boys will be wetting their pants at the thought of any league meeting with the wild and untamed team of the moment, team of the nation, Bosso Tshilamoya.

High-landing Highlanders FC- The dear owners

Let us call a spade a spade. Highlanders Football Club is supported by people both full of jealousy and lacking in vision. They do it by heart and less brain. It is time that we have a reality check and to thoroughly examine ourselves with total honesty.

One of the best commercials ever on TV, feature a desperate beggar on the street. As much as sentimental the only available item is to the SUV lady driver who stops at the traffic light, out of pity, she thinks twice before she gives away the very lovely designer dress. The begging tramp lady takes it in her hands, fascinated and bewildered, admiring the artistry of the apparel before looking back at the giver with a scornful look.

'Thanks madam, but RED!!!!. I'm sorry, it's not my colour.' throwing it back to an unbelieving proud owner. As a club fan, so are you.

The over-rated notion that Bosso will supernaturally over-ride its financial woes solely based on goodwill is grossly exaggerated. If those harbouring the idea that Highlanders deserves everything from everyone for free is nothing but malicious mischief and fallacy.

Brandishing the concept of the larger than life Bosso brand as a casino slot-machine where throwing cow-dung coins out millions at the flick of a finger took the team nowhere since 1926. In that point in history, all else did not matter or count. This is a different era.

Doubtless to say that the name has power, the institution requires classy thinking to harness its power and strength as a meaningful brand to reap from its potential. Most of the blame has always been thrown at the management, with due reason of cause.

Coming from the fatalist-fan group, they are the product of a poverty complex buttered with cheesy undertones of not underselling the club. The killing of that backward mentality began with a strong start of the season by the team, and usually, at that point, the disease engulfs everyone on board with a saddening grip that lasts well after the doom becomes a permanent resident of the system. 

For instance, the team engaged in that ancient routine begging bowl antic after the alleged usual financial doldrums. Many thanks to the donations and pledges made by the invited guests. I trust many were willing to give but their circumstances did not allow. It was sad that some preferred to donate anonymously for the very reason that 'red is not our colour'.

If the club's bank balance read zero, it is never in the mind of the management and worse off the fans, that a man, a body, who has a family first to risk his fortunes and then rescue a public property. 

The process comes at a price to both the fans and the club. No one accepts this. Only after other clubs from Harare have engaged in some insightful projects do the Tshilamoya supporters feel left behind. They must be commended for the loud talk but action speaks louder than words. 

The man risks $10 to generate $20 for the club and the traditional thinking is that the $20 belongs to the club. Noble as it sounds, the Mantengwane growth has been nil and will continue in that vein until Dynamos use BF as the home-ground. 

'Delusionaries' tried to enter into such ventures, albeit for a while and the club is still begging for funds. All people can do, is acknowledge and applaud the love for the team by those who enjoy the limelight of appearing to be assisting Highlanders. 

It is not right for Bosso to be a perennial donor recipient. Charitable organisations have their mission to fullfil in other social circles. Sustainable financial stability and independence materialises only on business concepts that are either long lasting or permanent. 

The $10 that the man risks is sacred but as for the other $10 generated by the man-Bosso partnership, it becomes the cake for both parties, and in a way that promotes symbiosis. Only that way, will the team realise its financial potential.

The idea is to make the man keep generating cash using the Highlanders brand in a very serious business and not charitable way. Donor funds dry, but enterprises like Nokia have been around since the 1800s. 

To many people, this is faulty and I can tell you right now, that it is that kind of thinking that is very faulty. Highlanders have depended on the emotionalisation and sensationalist behaviour to override logic, not just because of the behaviour of fans venting out their anger invading the pitch and the like. 

All relationships with the corporate world come to naught at one point or another. The sugar-coated truth is that the club belongs to the people. How unlucky can an elite institution like Bosso be to belong to such people? 

The calamity of this club ends with the death of the prescription that any individual or business benefiting from the name of the club is bad. That idea is very bad. As soon as focus is on the individual or person and not the club, we are in the wrong business.

To think of the of this club with a small mind is to kill the club slowly. In financial terms, the club has been wheel-chair bound since birth. The much needed surgery always gets aborted on the notion that the procedure hurts the patient. What a lame protectionist measure of disproportionate barbaric nature. 

Looking at the club potential, match-fees at basically $2 a week by a few thousands of people could be 'moneygrammed' or 'Western Unionied' monthly or annually, but lack of trust kept threatening the concept of those in the diaspora. The club reportedly accepted assisting those calling the office with funds going directly into its account.

More ways and means of injecting cash are being coined and the means of transacting may be a challenge, but then, those with noble intentions get a way to forge ahead and materialise their pledges.

That does not leave out my book that was meant to permanently boost the club cash as an ongoing income. To many, use of credit cards and accessing the book online is a huge challenge. To others, it is the calculation that after selling a million books, $10million will be realised. With more than 50% publishing costs, it is the $2.5 million that goes to my pocket that is a bother. Nobody looks at the $2.5 million Bosso is missing. Typical rural mentality that always killed Bosso. 

In South Africa, the marketing strategy aggression saw people going to great length digging deep to unearth hundreds of millions of rands to finance the game, first from ABSA Bank, then Nedbank and Supersport. The success of the deals was borne out of rewarding that negotiating excellence generously. Figures of up to R80 million per individuals are normal and the relationships between the game and sponsors flourish

Orlando Pirates operated on the model that Highlanders are constituted until sober minds prevailed. It does not necessarily mean that  Bosso should change based on that, nor should the come, that it be in the model of the Bucs.

The team has not lost a single match and the brand of football so far exhibited has been refreshing. To think that after the players' magnificent shows they have nothing much to show for it, is just but pathetic. Al we want to do is hear the results, cheer and sing praises. Thanks for that but it does not feed the players. 

At this point, to cultivate enthusiasm in the players and team management, would it not befit the worth of your salt, not only to pay the necessary lip service, but think like a businessman whose company is Highlanders Football Club?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chelsea - The darkest hour is before dawn

The fundis have bombarded the cyber space with their educated opinions about how the European champions vanquished their foes on the way to an incredulous and obviously palatable throne.

Chelsea have since been basking in that glory and courting scrutiny on their next moves concerning one Didier Drogba, a man mountain who will never be replaced, should his imminent departure materialise, as well as the much anticipated replacement of Andreas Villas-Boas.

Stand-in manager in Roberto Di Matteo seemed to seal his fate with the FA Cup accolade just collected before the big one, the UEFA Cup. Having amassed that much weaponry to win his case, ascension to the hottest seat in football is still to be ascertained.

Instead of looking at how the Blues conquered Bavaria, given the history and stereo-type of German football mentality of Bayern Munich, all there is to savour are the lessons that can be gleaned from, not only that duel and the run to the Allianz Arena, but also from the surprise prowess Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League.

Football is played by toddlers by heart who genuinely see themselves as Ronaldos, Messis, Rooneys and Drogbas. That wishful thinking last as long as dew and they begin to act their age, their self. They will play and play-act that way. They believe they are just as lethal or better.

The professionals play at a way different level, the tactical and technical game. More tactic than technique increasingly influences the pattern and outcome of matches. As much as planning and management are crucial, the pivot hinges on the brilliance on a key individual massively gifted.

Chelsea had been very average throughout the past few years. There was never a question of their talent. Actually, there was; as to whether there was any team with as much individual technical ability.

With all the playing with the heart when they were psychologically superior to their peers, (their salaries played a huge part) they could only be rivalled by Manchester City, who, at one point, seemed too over-rated.

It may not be as obvious that Chelsea did not win because they are more talented than their semi-final victims, Barcelona or slaughtered Bayern Munich.

This distinguishing point was the championship mentality and a good footballing side. For many years, the world witnessed how much the beautiful football of the Catalans won matches and trophies. It was a new age of the game, after years of the dull finals always experienced the world over.

That phase came after the Brazilians and the Dutch introduced 'the beautiful game' and 'total football'. It was well while it lasted. The Germans introduced the dull straight forward game that the Italians solidified by the basketball defending tactics of Arrigo Sacchi.

Football was never the same until Barca successfully brought back the tiki-taka, historically known in South Africa as 'shoe-shine' piano, though in Africa it was more individual than a collective effort.

The Blues made a bold statement to our astonishment of what we all knew already. It does not matter how you play. No one remember those who came second.

The Londoners were neither too technical or tactical. They played not with their feet nor their hearts, but with their heads. That is the difference between a champion and a runner-up. It was not a game any more.

Now, the European champions did not require good fortune as many may want to to believe that they made their own luck with their hard work, confidence in their abilities and team spirit. All this, they had over the duration of the English Premier League.

All they did was dish out free lessons of how much one's life can change overnight regardless of their background. Where one is, where they were before, counts for nothing in dealing with life battles. Anyone person, have a Didier Drogba in themselves and getting him on there when you need him is key.

Whether you keep him after that success is another story. It may not be a guarantee that you contract your Di Matteo, but if you want to champion your own life and cause, impossible is nothing.

As much as this is about Chelsea, Manchester City proved the point that in life one can never give up. It is hardest just a moment from glory. They say it is darkest before dawn.

As a team,they were down and out, without any hope for silverware and qualification of Europe. They looked desperate and downtrodden, proof that you can be head and not the tail. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I told you Chelsea will win it

Chelsea Football Club of the Barclays Premier League of England made a historic capture of the UEFA Champions League title with a chess end game of the highest order. It was not magic that they did so and we told you they were going to do it. (Get yourself a copy of The Anatomy of Football)
The Londoners stunned a confident and wasteful Bayern Munich to win a maiden European championship at the Allianz Arena in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw of full-time and a stalemated extra-time. 
It was the man Drogba who had equalised for Chelsea in the 88th minute who became the man of the show, as he tucked in the winning kick to send the English wild.
Thomas Mueller's 83rd minute header past Petr Cech had 'Champions' written all over it until the African from Ivory Coast sang.
The Cup with the Big Ears was last in the Bayern cabinet, who had it four times in their history, in 2001. They had the luxury of having Arjen Robben miss a spot-kick given away by Didier Drogba, as Cech heroically saved it during open play.
It was a sweet victory for Chelsea, who lost to Manchester United in the 2008 final on penalties, and were also undone in 2009's semi-final against Barcelona. Those dark moments were forgotten as the fans cried tears of joy.
Far from being value for money for many, the unpredictability of events made up for wow-factor. The hosts dominated the whole 90 minutes and were quite flat in extra time. The visitors' ultimate plan was not to lose it at any point of the match, which they executed very well.
Manager Rorbeto Di Matteo ensured they defended well against fierce attacks and potential heartbreaking wing-play from the Germans. It was a psychological game which built confidence on each player with each passing moment. 
Chelsea were always going to be a better team as the match wore on, not much as to the manager's prudence, but based on the work ethic of men at work digging for gold.
Without a few of their influential players, it sounded like a suicide mission to enter Germany with a 'rooky' stand-in manager of little experience in Europe.
Tucked away nicely were spot-kicks by David Luiz, captain of the day, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and of course, D Drog. 
Olic had replaced the regulation time scorer and his penalty-kick one-handedly stopped by Cech. It turned out that the usually dependable Bastien Schweinsteiger had no nerves to face the masked Cech as his spot-kick crashed the post. 
Drogba closed the meeting in the only way he knows how. The result became a bitter-sweet victory for Roman Abramovich who began to ponder as to how not to give a full contract to the 'out of contract' 33 year-old Drogba and care-taker manager Di Matteo.
It is a preferred headache than to play second fiddle to every one in everything to the billionaire who pumped in cool cash to his vetaran footballers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pirates are the champions with another treble

Orlando Pirates snatched away the ABSA Premier League title when they predictably wrapped up the season in true style without the need of favours from anyone after a classic 4-2 victory over Golden Arrows in Durban in a match in which veteran Benni McCarthy shone like a beacon.

The Ghosts were never going to be outshone by Golden Arrows as their attack was sharper as seen by the goals. The Bucs retained not only the title, but the complete treble package they bagged last season. 

The victory was ever so sweet as the other Soweto giants were humbly watching how football is played. As a gesture of celebratory significance, they will be invited to the party too.

While the treble becomes the second for the Sea Robbers, that feat was achieved only twice before, by Kaizer Chiefs in 1992 and by themselves last season.

The victory was a significant landmark for Dane Klate, who became the first player to win five successive titles. He had his treble of titles at Supersport United before he joined Pirates last season.

The Happy People lifted their 6th trophy in just two seasons, an incredible achievement for what had become a team of underachievers since the days of Lesley Manyathela and Gift Leremi who then played alongside Lebogang Mokoena, Benedict Tso Vilakazi and Joseph Dukuduku Makhanya.

The team of Moeneeb Joseph, Tlou Segolela, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa, Siyabonga Sangweni, Lucky Lekgwathi, Benni McCarthy, Rooi Mahamutsa as well as the injured players like Jele and Cloete turned into heroes of record breakers with a hungry and committed fight.

Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Dikgang Mabalane, Isaac Chansa and Clifford Mngomeni were some of the cornerstones of the campaign.

Captain Lekgwathi headed the team ahead before two quick surprise goals that temporarily set the champions back for a moment. It proved the necessary backward step for a huge forward leap as the half time score was 2-2.

It was then up to the experienced McCarthy to head the Bucs into the championship before icing the cake with a free-kick to officially close the season's campaign.

Champions League final - Is this the day Chelsea have been waiting for?

The power of Bayern Munich lies on their hurricane attacking force of the bulldozing Gomez and ingenious of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robin. That they are German is a bonus.

The strong and rigid mentality and world renowned defensive discipline is another factor, but this one is a misplaced match given that only the philosophy will be whole German an the team is universally versatile.

Their ace in the sleeve is the home ground and their secret weapon will be the crowd. That is as far as their advantage goes, not withstanding that they are the second most attacking team in their league after the champions, Borussia Dortmund.

In their quest to conquer Europe tonight, an average English side that underperformed in the league and have no substantial leader in both senses of the word, they face a tricky assignment.

Chelsea are without John Terry, their influential skipper, and they are guided by stand-in manager in Roberto Di Matteo. They have a few issues about injuries and suspensions that rendered Ramirez 'unplayable' after his telling semi-final performance at the Camp Nou in Barcelona.

Now, what is the Londoners' hope? Chelsea, as we have mentioned before, were the kings of English football in terms of talent and money for a long time in the advent preceding the arrival of the petro-dollar bankrolled Manchester City.

These players were spoilt and called the shorts and threw tantrums at will. This was made conducive by the choice of managers that Roman Abramovic hired.

At this stage of the campaign, the players understand that they are at the twilight of their careers without much to show for it. They do not own the 'town' anymore as their salaries have just been turned into peanuts by new Barclays Premier League champions, Manchester City.

The players have no one to attend to their tantrums or to change their nappies. Basically, the gloves are out and for the first time in three seasons or so, Chelsea seem to have decided to play football.

Among the other reasons, the biggest is that in their playing for their footballing lives now, they have only each other to rely on. They toyed around and the show audience have shifted focus to the Etihad Stadium and they need something special to catch the attention once more.

That something, is the UEFA Champions League Cup.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Orlando Pirates will win it

Orlando Pirates will wrap up the season in style without the drama of the English Premier League as anticipated by their protagonists and foes who are praying doomsday prayers for the Sea Robbers.

Golden Arrows envisage to playing their full-fledged team that displays attacking football. That will be handy for an afternoon entertainment than a bull-fighting encounter. 

The truth be told, the Happy People should have wrapped this title weeks back when they chose to draw easy matches. They quickly learnt to convert a substandard product into a 'hot cake' as seen by the dramatic late surges that catapulted them to the log summit in the past weeks.

Even the events of last week could have ended the title contention by now bitter rivals, Moroka Swallows, had the Dube Birds failed to squeeze what ended up looking as an easy win against Platinum Stars.

A loss or draw for them in that match could have ended the ABSA Premier League with a match to spare. Pirates were guilty of missing seater after seater in their matches, but fighting strong to the end and proving to be worthy of being champions. 

The fast paced and entertaining style of free-flowing football will be expected to be the order of the day at the KZN and hopefully, more chances will be created and a higher conversion rate will be mandatory, not that goals matter.

Swallows are a force to reckon with themselves, given the record of their mentor, Gordon Igesund who has four different titles under his belt. 

With the resurgent free-scoring Siyabonga Nomvete on a purple patch, they will terrorise Maritzburg United and the pressure of the day may see them drop points. Winning it would make it interesting though it will count for nothing.

While Igesund holds this record with two other coaches in the domestic scene, his peers had it easy in doing so with the same teams that normally had class and resources. His story has always been that like the Swallows that he rescued from relegation only less than a year ago, into contenders today.

The Birds will come out consoling themselves of that feat, which deserves an applause, but they will live to fight another day. For sentimental reasons, it would be lovely to have a local coach prove me right that we are better than expats.

Regardless of how lekker local can be, as Igesund is, teams like Kaizer Chiefs will keep forking out cool rands for questionable characters. 

Not that Stuart Baxter is questionable in his ability given his invisible successes, but the story of his forged CV explains how the rest of the unknowns from Eastern Europe arrive with long resumes made in the backyard and destroy African football and eventually become permanent citizens of the continent.

While being so grateful of this colonisation, the Bucs are mentored by Honduran (or is he Peruvian) Augusto Palacious. He gets favours as a coach just because he is a Buccaneers and is temporary.

Thina ubunandi siyazenzela.

Futbol del mundo starring Vusumuzi Ndlovu - Roman’s Dilemma

Roman’s Dilemma

Futbol del mundo starring Vusumuzi Ndlovu

Under Roman’s reign at Chelsea, interim managers have delivered above expectations and went as far as reaching the Champions League final, Hiddink excluded.

This is not fluke, luck or a mere coincidence, it goes with the pressure of coaching Chelsea since the Russian tycoon took over 9 years ago. Abramovich’s ambitions and great expectations have been clear since commenced bankrolling the London side. The billionaire is success-starved; he is glory-chaser and a very difficult boss to please.

The case that he hasn’t been complaining about the team’s unattractive type of play speaks volumes about his desire for silverware; he wants results at all costs. But this might change as soon he gets the elusive and most wanted Big Eared trophy; the UEFA Champions League. Ever since the Jose Mourinho won the league successively, his main focus has been the most prestigious club trophy in world football; the UEFA Champions League.

Frankly, little can be said about Claudio Ranieri, who was the manager when Roman took over except that he is serial perennial under-achiever. Mourinho critics insist he harvested what was sown by Ranieri.  Of course he made Terry captain but who else deserved it more than him? Lampard spoke highly of Ranieri saying he brought him to the Bridge and changed his mindset; nonetheless, he went without winning the league.
Then in came Jose Mourinho, grinding out results with ruthless efficiency. He had his way of absorbing pressure; he took it off his players and pilled on his shoulders, allowing the team to play freely. With that he took full responsibility and with full responsibility he wanted full powers without interference in team selection and transfers.
As he said: “If I ran his business world we would be bankrupt and he if over saw proceedings at training we would be relegated.” 

Abramovich interrupted, most visible with the purchase of Andriy Shevchenko. Mourinho saw the exit door and Avram Grant took over to lead the team the Champions League final where they lost to Man United in the penalty lottery. The uncalculated hiring of Big Phil Scolari did more damage than good and his sacking was inevitable.

Carlo Ancelotti’s impressive European record with AC Milan landed him at the Bridge but he hadn’t conquered Europe overnight at the San Siro, he needed time to implement his ideas and bring players of his choice if the situation called for. He came in oozing fire and class, recording high scores as well as a double on his 1st season until the departure of ass coach Ray Wilkins. Chelsea enjoyed a fairly good time with former players as assistant coaches, from Steve Clarke, Wilkins to Eddie Newton. Ancelotti’s narrow diamond was well read and ineffective in his 2nd season, changes in style of play and some playing staff was imminent but that didn’t happen as he was shown the doorway. The Russian did what he does best only to employ a novice in the form of Andre Villas-Boas and send him packing within a season at the helm.
In came Roberto Di Matteo, whose calm and low-key approach won him the players’ respect making his work much easier. 

Roman finds himself in not-so-tricky situation to hire RDM full time or not. He must relinquish his tendencies of hiring high profile incompetent coaches, who when they come try to change the team completely at the same time failing to impress the boss that they deserve more time to build a formidable team.
Chelsea's performance says it all, solid displays highlight his short stint in charge. Winning the FA Cup and reaching the Champions League final warrants full time employment in my world of football but my reasoning and understanding counts to naught in Roman’s bid world.

A man travels the whole world in search of something only to return and find it at home.