Friday, May 31, 2013

Highlanders replica jersey arrived and check out the price!!

The undisclosed amount of Highlanders Bosso replica jerseys for the funs were unveiled and hande over to the club for distribution at a price of $50.00 in a function that was held in Harare.

In a deal between Adidas and both Dynamos and Highlanders, the clubs stand to benefit a cool $3.50 (7%) from the sale of each unit. It has been said that arrangements for shipment will be made for those purchasing from far away places.  many

The guess is that payment online will be made available for the convinience of the people in the diaspora. One could not establish what else in terms of menchandise was available from Adidas and BancABC. Hats, scarfs, gloves and flags may still be left to the clubs to produce and market.

This deal is said to have been brokered by BancABC, while earlier on, the understanding was that it was a through pass to Edazi Kasinauyo's company to source the kit and the deal for the two clubs through BancABC. It is reported that an approved retailer will receive the merchandise from Adidas in South Africa and sell the jerseys to the public.

These will be sold in home matches and approved shops still to be specified. This brought excitement to fans and pundits alike. The issue of Bosso associating with Adidas overshadowed the issue of the club's share. There is not much doubt how many jerseys will be sold. All the years we have cried for the Bosso family to open up the minds and think business.

At 7% share per shirt, many people could have made better offers, not for the jerseys, because I truly think Adidas are the best and they gave a good deal. A lot of business people are availavble to manufacture and distribute so much for their gross share of 93%.

This includes the books I wrote and proposed a 50% share of the net. It just shows how much onew thinks by heart without a business mind. Mind-blogging was the club's insistance on 100%. At this point, no books have been sold, meaning that the club received 100% of nothing. If a 1000 were sold, the team would pocket around R50000.00. This is not to take away the shine of this deal, but opens the eyes of what the club should be loking at about everything else.

What has not been clear is how long the deal is for and if it invoves any training kits as well as apparel for the junior teams. I am neither sure how much else the team gets for donning Adidas kit and the length of that part of the deal. Like all new toys, we hug and embrace the fresh start and hope it undures the hard times. It is however worrying that the club still claims financial hardships while being kitted by such a strong brand.

Besides the financial obligations, Adidas could as well furnish the coaches' offices if they have, and equip them with the high-tech gadgets. The assumption is that they supply cones, maniquines, bibs and balls, not just shorts, shorts and socks for the team.

It would also be nice if they endorsed local players and supplied them with footall boots even if it was for $10000 per annum. The football boots can be named after these players in the local market and many people would have the pride to wear the brand their heroes use. All this could be a done deal but many people that were asked could not provide the answers, regardless of their lose ties to the top.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kelvin Kaindu could be under-utilised by Bosso

A visit to Barbourfields Stadium after a decade did revive memories, some good memories but there was a deep sense of sadness and loss at the thought of the departed heroes of the game. I paid tribute to them throughout an emotional 90 minutes cherishing every minute of their contributions, but that is not what I want to talk about.

I dislike being the prophet of doom or the bearer of bad news. I will however express my disappointment at the lack of the black and white regalia. There were few people here and there clad in the team colours. The highlight of it was the home-made white coveralls inscribed in black. That innovation was proof enough how much less the club put effort in decorating their fans.

The make-shift hats and T-shirts will be hard to get rid of after the official launch of the replica jerseys. At least the jerseys are said to be here, but the market waited for too long. The reasons usually border on the excuse of the agreement between the club and the sponsors. The sponsors' contracts do not have a provision for scarfs, umbrellas and the bandannas.

It is quite a big picture to talk about that. Highlanders needed to sell something in there somehow. It could have been peanuts or juices, I do not know. There could have been seat cushion or gloves because of the cold weather.

Someone needed to have anything, any form of memorabilia. To make matters worse, I entered the stadium and even the ticket stub was taken away. I have no proof I was in there. There is no way I can prove I payed $30 for the match (2 tickets). I think it was one downside that the match was overpriced that the stadium was not full for that How Mine match. A full house paying less is indeed better, but one has to understand the Executive Committee thinking. They hoped for the full house at a high cost.

As we speak, it has been reported there would be a 'launch' or 'presentation' of the official replica jerseys somewhere in the capital of Zimbabwe. There has not been wind of the price or accessibility of the merchandise online for the diaspora. I will leave much to imagination and hope for the best.

As much as I tried to check, there was no video recording of the match. I still hope I am wrong and someone will come and tell me that there is always someone recording matches for the club. This does not need to be professional.

Video recording is not just for archives but at this day and age, a coach cannot work without recording his matches and training session. The importance of video analysis need not be over-emphasised. That is the only way to access whether today's session is better that yesterday's. The benefits are better known to Kelvin Kaindu and crew.

KK, as a member of the FA Licensed Coaches Club like yours truly, has access to some software to assist in match analysis at a very huge discount. He has access to the Club's elite website with all goodies in terms of tactical and technical tools in preparing the team and analysing the matches. Without the video recording, he is made to work well under-par. He becomes like a normal Zimbabwean coach.

I assume he has already received his passwords from the FA to unlock this potential but nonetheless, there are many free tools that he can utilise if the recordings are in place. I pray the club has the equipment, because a simple video recorder will do. The software will enable him to tag players and do everything he needs to work. At around $150 a basic video camera, the extra fares supporters paid through the turnstiles, it cannot run dry the club coffers.

Having watched the single match, I saw one tall man in the rear guard. They called him Fazo. He was outstanding and for me, he could play and be a good anchorman.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Highlanders tops Castle Premier League table

Highlanders won 2 - 1 against Black Mambas to lead the Castle Premier League of Zimbabwe.  The home side had been leading 2-0 until the 85th consolation by the visitors. Graham Ncube headed the second goal with just over 20 minutes of play to go.

Bosso had taken the lead through Milton Ncube in the 58th minute. There was much better impetus for the team following their 5-2 drubbing of Monomotapa during the week. The result was a positive sign of constructive work done by the technical team after last weekend's 1-2 loss to How Mine.
Bosso started with Ariel Sibanda, Lawson Nkomo, Bruce Kangwa, Dumisani Fazo Ndlovu, Innocent Mapuranga, Mthulisi Maphosa, Peter Rio Moyo, Hillary Madzivanyika, Mimon Munawa, Milton Ncube and Graham Ncube while the bench comprised Archie Katsande (Gk), Beavan Chikaka, Heritan Masuku, Cleopas Dube, Eric Mudzingwa, Ozias Zibande, Knox Mtizwa. 

Elsewhere CAPS United beat 2-1 Platinum FC at the National Sports Stadium while Buffaloes lost 1-3 to Shabanie Mine at Sakubuva Stadium. Harare City won 2-0 against league anchors, Tripple B at Rufaro Stadium. 

There was a 0-0 stalemate at the Colliery Stadium between Hwange and Monomotapa while Black Rhinos  beat Triangle FC at Gwanzura

Pos Team.................P W D L F A Pts
1 HIGHLANDERS ..12 8 2 2 24 11 26
2 Harare City............12 7 3 2 18 8 24
3 Dynamos ..............12 5 7 0 16 6 22
4 FC Platinum......... 12 6 3 3 18 11 21
5 Chicken Inn.......... 12 6 2 4 16 14 20
6 How Mine .............12 6 2 4 15 13 20
7 CAPS United....... 12 6 1 5 17 14 19
8 Buffaloes ..............12 5 1 6 18 20 16
9 Black Mambas.....12 5 1 6 13 17 16
10 Monomotapa..... 12 4 3 5 15 20 15
11 Hwange.............. 12 3 5 4 10 12 14
12 Shabanie Mine ..12 4 2 6 12 18 14
13 Motor Action.......12 3 3 6 12 18 12
14 Black Rhinos......12 3 3 6 15 22 12
15 Triangle ..............12 2 3 7 11 17 9
16 Triple B................12 2 1 9 10 19 7

Bayern Munich - Viva the Champions.

Arjen Robben is one of the few players who have played at Wembley Stadium and the one with most experiences there and now, probably his last and best memories will always be his fluctuating and mesmerising performance. He had the last word after his exploits that confused the many young Borrusia Dortmund players. 
Bayern Munich won 2-1 the Champions League final which was in England's decorated and famous Wembely Stadium after that winner from the balding Dutchman. Bayern equalled Liverpool's five European titles. Not only did he perplex his opponents and draw the ire of his fans. He was selfish and ultimately lethal. He is one man I always admired for his knowledge of his own talent. There is no question of his pride in his trade, if one follows where he has been, from his days at PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Real Madrid and now Bayern Munich.
The speedy Robben thrived on speed and dribbling wizardry few can match, especially when he is happy. After a fruitful season in which they wrested the Bundesliga in ruthless fashion from Dortmund and are still on track for the treble, he must be a very relied man after that missed penalty kick in extra-time in the 1-1 draw against Chelsea in the Champions League final in Munich before Bayern  lost on penalties to the Didier Drogba power master stroke.
Now leading a two-men movement affectionately known as Robbery, a wing-pronged attack involving Frenchman, Frank Ribery, he set up one goal and scored a softy in the dying minutes of the biggest match ever between these two German teams.  
What can one ask for with a man-of-the-match performance? He had Bayern's best two chances but somehow too eager to get things his way, fluffed both. Chasing a through ball, he wasted precious time attempting to switch the ball to his favourite left foot, dinking his effort poorly for goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller to turn away.
Moments later, it was a gilt-edged chance from the ball rebounding off a defender, but he shot straight at the goalkeeper. His second half shift to the left saw that Robbery effect when his interplay with Franck Ribery culminated in the dribble past Weidenfeller to set up Mario Mandzukic for a tap in into goal. He controlled the ball facing the advancing keeper and rolled the ball past a bemused Weidenfeller, Ribery assisting with a deft backheel.
Bayern's fans went into a frenzy as they screamed and shouted as their club entered the record books, chasing the Real Madrid and AC Milan title records with nine and seven championships respectively. By the time they conceded the winner, Dortmund were feeling the relentless pressure of Bayern pushing forward.
They reacted by doubling men charging towards the ball and ran extremely hard to neutralise the attacking force force that even Bayern never knew they had. Dortmund had two clear goal-scoring opportunities in the opening of the half, creating a total of seven of them. 
Solid Bayern defender Dante, had a clumsily kick on Marco Reus in the stomach, being lucky to stay on the pitch to see thew end of the match. Ilkay Guendogan sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way from the penalty spot.
The champions' triumph were a personal record for the manager leaving the club for Pep Guardiola to take over. The 68-year-old Heynckes became only the fourth manager to win the European Cup with two different clubs following his earlier success with Real Madrid in 1998. That elite club consists of Ernst Happel, Ottmar Hitzfeld and Jose Mourinho. 
Both goalkeepers had to summon their super-powers to ensure the spectacle lasted the entire 90 minutes. Given the rapid fast and furious tempo of the match, extra time could have spoilt the otherwise good show. It was Dortmund who began at blistering pace maintained entirely for almost 30 minutes. Reus and Polish Robert Lewandowski pestered and probed relentlessly the Bayern defence.
The Bayern attack was not to be outdone as Arjen Robben had an opportunity of a half-time hat trick, which did not matter eventually as the Bavarians lifted the famous Cup with big ears. Love them or hate them, Viva the Champions. Congratulations to Bayern Munich of Germany. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Highlanders blasts Monomotapa 5-2

Bosso against How Mine 3 days earlier
Highlanders redeemed themselves after a 1-2 loss to How Mine by blasting Monomotapa 5 - 2 in Harare with goals from Graham Ncube, Njabulo Ncube, Bevan Chikaka and Mthulisi Maphosa's brace. Mthulisi closed the proceedings with almost the last kick of the match after Chikaka had also scored in injury time as well.

Chikaka had his effort against the bar in the 88th minute after coming in for Peter Rio Moyo. Bosso were leading 1-3 at one point, playing with authority and dominating play with ease. Milton Ncube was the toast of the day, playing effectively and constructively.

Njabulo Ncube was by far the best player in the field in the first half, running hard and dropping into the midfield and combining well with Milton. Monomotapa had taken the lead after a swift counter-attacking move before Bosso equalised going to half-time.

Kelvin Kaindu's Highlanders lined up as follows: Ncube Njabulo, Ncube Milton, Ncube Graham, Moyo Peter, Maphosa Mthulisi, Madzivanyika Hillary, Mapuranga Innocent, Ndlovu Dumisani, Kangwa Bruce, Munawa Simon, Sibanda Ariel
Subs: Katsande Ashford, Mutizwa Knox, Chikaka Bevan, Masuku Heritein, Zibande Ozias,Sibanda Mgcini, Eric Mudzingwa.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Highalanders versus How Mine eye witness account - as I saw it

Highlanders were beaten 1-2 by Castle Premier League debutantes, neighbours How Mine FC at Barbourfields Stadium on the chilly Sunday afternoon of the 19th May 2013. The objective was to enjoy a good match but without a vuvuzela to make noise and be wild, for me then becomes a futile exercise. I begin to see much more than I paid for. 

At R300 a pair of tickets, there must be value for money at least from both the team and the environment. With boxes of good chicken, an old friend brought it the flavour by buying a cup or two of home-cooked ground nuts and the chilly weather was forgotten for a while.

The first comparison of the two teams came from their physical appearance, normally not a big issue, but those who saw the teams from the early 1990s will attest that maybe not by height, but by mass, Bosso was the heaviest team by huge margins and for a long time. Not just because of Douglas Mloyi, Peter Nkomo, Madinda Ndlovu, Willard Khumalo and Mercedes Sibanda who were stocky, but all the materials was of firm size. 

How Mine players looked much heavier and were fitter. They were more enthusiastic getting for the business of the day and for me that's the most vital. It is the reason why I try never to miss a warm up of any match. It tell me the whole story before the kick-off. 

Given my limited knowledge of the team composition, many already lamented the omission of experience players - Mthulisi Maphosa, Innocent Mapuranga and Njabulo Ncube who were benched. For sure, I had a brief conversation with Cosmas Zulu who expressed the same sentiments. That showed me people had a clue what they are talking about. Only the names are familiar to me but I have never seen these players in action, save for Ncube that I coached as a 16 years old.

Let's talk football. One very obvious thing that struck right in my face was the keeping of positions by players. Some did a good job as the adjusted according to the situation, which was not entirely good. The anchorman as an example, spent most of the time in front of the central defenders without picking up anyone. When How Mine attacked he drifted to the left and left the central defence exposed.

This was never his problem. The problem was that the left back religious kept his number or position with and without cause. How Mine's number 27 went deep into midfield and sometimes defence to pick up the balls. In running forward with the ball, he managed to get players in front of him criss-crossing to out-manoeuvre the left back and the anchorman drifted to fight the fire.

The problem here is that the fire was never supposed to start. The left-back was supposed to press up higher and then leave enough room for the anchorman to support the right and left side when How Mine came. That was a huge tactical problem.

Still, Bosso under pressure are very brittle. The defensive organisation diminished and the visitors coach, a very close friend of mine, Philani Mabhena was supposed to utilise that and exploit the situation. The shape gets lost and the commitment to good defending was completely absent.

Under attack, one man was meant to charge towards the ball while others monitor the front runners. In all occasions, the situation could be described as being in sixes and sevens. I wish to state that this is a postmortem of a single match that went wrong. Highlanders surely are capable of doing much better but all of us have a bad day in office.

Many of these situations were captured on my camera phone hoping to discuss them over coffee with the gaffer, but the meeting failed to materialise due to the commitments of our schedules that were parallel. 

In attack, the team never played football in midfield. The ball came to the centre of the park but the decision making was very bad. A wrong pass followed another on several successive occasions. With the basic formation that has four defenders, the line between them must resemble a dish - left back, centre-half, centre-half and right back. The ball must follow that movement or pattern. The same goes for the midfield. 

This can be limited to the attacking third were the pace picks up and a little enterprise is required. Highlanders midfielders left a yawning gap between themselves and the attack, the space which was well utilised by the referee. I pointed to my colleagues gaps that would fit 3 to 4 buses being driven across the field with the match on.

This became the reason for inept and blunt attacks as the team came over the half-way and started delivering crosses from there. There was never a ball that was taken to the by-line and then cut back. All this crossing from the midfield was training session for the slow gold-miners who had the veterans in Gilbert Banda and Hebert Dick. It is the sought of football no one can beat them to in the whole world.

Besides the wrong and bad choices in passing, there was a big lack in technique execution. Players used wrong surfaces of the body to control or push a pass. There is a lot of many other small issues to look at but it was clear that How Mine suffered more or less similar issues, but their crew was much more experienced. Take the goals they scored as an example.

They never gave up and the equalising goal came from a corner kick that was well whipped to the secondary post and then headed back across goal. The winner was a give away ball after a school boy mistake and the dink over the goalkeeper was pure class.

Highlanders had the most intelligent player on the pitch, who wore jersey number 10. They said his name is Milton Ncube. The boy read the game well and tried to organise others but he does not have much authority. I saw a few touches of his for my liking. To fill the midfield gap I talked about earlier on, this is one man who should be asked to get in there and do whatever he likes. He should be the preferred recipient of all passes to deliver the killer pass.

The attacks should revolve around him to quickly and effectively penetrate defences. I am unsure of a player who made one single run on the left wing in the second half, getting into the box and finally making a bad effort by shooting wide and weak. That is a players with a lot of potential.

Many times, the players never realised how much space they had when attacking high balls in defence or midfield. They ended up blasting the ball away while they could have trapped the ball and passed it well and then entering into space to support the ball. That is the traditional Highlanders way. There were bad choices of when to pass or run with the ball and the players never rose to the party despite being the hosts.

There is much detail we can dwell on but let me finally express the goalkeepers. While there was not much to do for them, they saw to much ball and then all they did was clonk it up and high into no-man's land. As is always the case the ball came back to them in no time. The keepers could have made sure the pushed all men upfront, roll the ball outside their 18 yard box and then make accurate long kicks.

The commanding of the box was done better by the visitors minder and he was superb with aerial balls missed by Banda and Dick. I think with good reason, Munyaradzi Diya, like his outfield colleagues, do not trust each other with the ball. The further up field the ball, the better. It did not matter who had the ball, as long as it was away from goal.

It is one culture that left me a little disappointed. As team mates, it is essential for all to bank their salaries and winning bonuses on each other, that the ball is safe with the other guy and if he loses it, we get it back as soon as possible, or at least make sure it doesn't get to certain people or areas. The pace of match was very slow, actually being flatly lukewarm throughout except just after the Highlanders goal.

It reminded me how the fans also wanted to cheer up when the team did well, instead of cheering the team to do well. Fans were there to be entertained, not to spur the team forward, which is very sad. It was going to be a lovely day and a good vibey Sunday had the results been good and reading this would have been boring if the team won.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Highlanders to extend Standings lead

Highlanders Football Club entertain on fire newcomers, high-flying How Mine for the first Castle Lager Premiership at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday. Bosso got a go-ahead to increase gate charges as PSL chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele is said to have confirmed that his organisation agreed to the club's request.

Highlanders will be charging $5 for the rest of the ground up from $3, $10 for the wings and $15 for the VIP Tribune. This was a result of the bad financial position of the club, according to club officials. Fans were implored to sacrifice and fork out the extra cash for the benefit of the club.

Of course, there was appreciation for the support from sponsors and others who have helped Highlanders in dark moments over the years. The club has not been helped by the hefty fines coming its way.

The club was last week fined a total of $16 000 for crowd trouble at its matches in Harare (against Dynamos) and Zvishavane (Shabanie), accumulating a total debt of over $450 000. The club averages about $5 000 from home matches, not enough for previous match bonuses, costs for the next match and later on winning bonuses if the game is won.

GBP 35 000 000 for EPL tail-enders? I wonder.

Manchester United quickly named David Moyes as the replacement of the retired revered Sir Alex Ferguson who retired after over 26 years of serviced, leading the club in over 888 matches. However, Chelsea took some time in landing Jose Mourinho back to Stanford Bridge, maybe with good reason because The Only One still had a job to do at Real Madrid. Given the sack of bank notes to spend, it will be interesting who his targets are.

Manchester City are also managerless as we speak. Roberto Mancini was booted out by the Citizens after failing to win anything in the 2012/2013 season despite his enormous wage bill and talent to die for. Speculations about his replacement and his destination have been interesting. Manuel Pellegrini is front runner for the post but it still remains to be seen his interest and the true interest of the club in him.

Of course, there is speculation of Rafa Benitez leaving Chelsea and donning yet another blue shirt. The Interim One leaves Chelsea in an excellent shape indeed but The Special One will shuffle things around and enter the market as usual. While City may give him the petro-dollar, Everton would suit his project, or the Toffees project would suit him. Afterall, he lived at Merseyside.
However, Everton insiders will tell you Gustav Poyet is favourite but his experience may not be suitable to keep Everton up there. It would be Roberto Martinez's excellent destination and opportunity to fulfil his potential. There will be questions of who replaces Martinez at Wigan if he leaves. I guess it will be a question of when he leaves.

Real Madrid should scouting by now and Carlo Ancellotti has been tagged the front-runner, but the Italian expressed his contentment at PSG. His statements proves there was a possible shift for whatever reason despite his commitment that he will stay. He claimed he was staying although he wanted to sit and talk to the bosses. If he left, the new French champions will be entering the market for a new mentor.

Talking of commitment, Martin Jol also stamped his final decision of staying at Fulham. He quashed the rumours of a possible move elsewhere. The rumours were based on the small budget reported for the player transfer market. It seems Mohamed Al Fayed will be forking out a few millions for his manager's wish list.

Elsewhere, Wolverhampton Wanderers parted with Dean Saunders while Millwall had Kenny Jackett at the helm. Donchester are seeking the replacement of Brian Flynn and Hartlepool's John Hughes has moved on either for greener pastures or promoted.

Blackburn and Sheffield United are also managerless and will surely be looking at possible candidates from a list that includes the managers associated with City and Everton. Wigan will be hunting if Martinez leaves. With Queens Park Rangers and Reading going down to the Championship, it may be safe that they will keep their managers in a bid to come back quickly.

These managers earn much and may need health budgets to make their missions possible. This may never be compatible with the purses of their directors who have to cope with the busy schedules of the league as well as the experience of the league's seasoned campaigners. 

On the upside, I heard a very healthy rumour that the last team on the log pockets GBP35, 000 000. That cash should be sweet enough to bounce the team back in the Premiership. While this source was reliable, I was wondering how much Manchester United as champions get for their troubles. In any case, it is encouraging to come last if this is true.

Hail to the Kings, the Kaizer Chiefs

With a single fixture of the ABSA Premiership to go, the title has been taken. Kaizer Chiefs won their first title in 8 years after that famous draw with draw specialists in Supersport United. With that, it may be worthwhile to declare Black Leopards relegated. Chippa United and Ajax of Cape Town will decide amongst themselves who goes for play-offs by playing for their lives.

There is a couple of things of concern here. A team of the magnitude of Amakhosi can never be allowed to go without a title for so long. While congratulating them and appreciating the efforts of Kaizer Mutoung and his family for this feat, it underlines what has been gross under-achievement by their very high standards. 

Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and to a lesser extent, Moroka Swallows and Supersport United should never go for so long without a title. Rotating the title among the Soweto rivals should be the norm. This is due to their following and financial muscle. Sundowns provide the financial stability that all teams envy. 

As for Supersport, their is the stability in other resources that are not necessarily financial They have all the equipment and facilities anyone can dream of. They have access to archives and material including continental football records that can be accessed by their technical stuff. This should see them do better in the African safari, but like Chiefs in the local scene, they misfire constantly.

Let us not take away the shine away from the Naturena Boys. They were a solid unit of note for the first time in years. This is mainly based on their recruitment of the correct material for their campaign. One cannot really say the right material, but the best local talent money could buy. Their line-up is basically the national squad by any measure.

In Itumeleng Khune, save for the poor penalty saving record, they have probably the best goalkeeper in Southern Africa, maybe Africa. His distribution of the ball is the best I have ever seen in my life. The timing and accuracy sends chills down the spine of the observer. 

Formerly based overseas and playing in the UEFA Champions League, Tshepo Masilela covered the wing back position the way he did in La Liga and Israeli league. His Bafana colleague in Sibusiso Gaxa has much of that overseas experience and their defensive roles were as important as their defending; fast-flowing and ruthless.

Morgan Gould is another national team defender of note, aggressive and intelligent. In Mashamaite, he had a solid partner who can play anyway in the world. The solid holding role of Katsande and the offensive prongs of Reneiloe Letsholonyane and Simphiwe Shabalala ensured a complementing structure that was both unbreakable and unstoppable.

The reasonable width came from the wing backs but Bernard Parker drifted well in supporting Lehlohonolo Majoro. Majoro was signed a season earlier after a good run in KZN but people were beginning to doubt his goal-scoring prowess until this season. He became a beacon in national team colours too. With that kind of skeleton, any flesh thrown in there would bring the title home, provided the management was sober enough.

Not being a big fan of Stuart Baxter, he really did not need to be good to win this one. Any average performance from this line up over 12 months will yield something for sure. It must be mentioned that he had a big role to play standing along the touch line talking to the 4th official and sometimes the linesman. Baxter's supporting men also played a big role considering the weight of their names, e.g Doctor Khumalo worth his weight in gold (and black) for sure.

Not that these gentlemen are unqualified. Their colourful CVs are an envy to many and a close ally tells me they are shrewd too. While for sentimental reasons, many see VV, the former mentor as more tactically aware (I'm not sure of the measurement used here), he did not win much to talk about. They then want to blame his failures on his material.

Earlier on, I mentioned the credit that must be given to the whole management of Kaizer Chiefs because after spending so much money and a huge wage bill, they were likely to eat from the same plate as Sundowns. However, they conquered Mzansi by their solid performances and discipline approach with flying ego that sought massage from those also seeking massaged. How they kept this in check should be a lesson to all. They applied the principles of monkeys, that 'you scratch my balls I scratch yours'. This they did faithfully and religiously in all their matches.

Having mentioned the 'galatico' in Sundowns, everyone there wanted their balls scratched but no one had the will to scratch. As we now all know, the recipe for that is disaster. One can assume they learnt a thing or two, in which case Chiefs will find it harder to retain their title. Not only Minwana Phezulu are the threat. There is still the wounded Sea Robbers.

Orlando Pirates feel the sabotage mission of a few individuals led to the loss of their title. Their run in Africa is very much alive and kicking and they think they had the potential to do that at home. How far they go in the safari may be a problem for Chiefs. If they win the Champions League, they may be the real deal. Pirates are not necessarily solid but crafty and tactically aware by a mile in comparison. If they are going to be a threat in reclaiming their title they had domesticated for the last 2 seasons, they may have to enter the market and get rid of bad apples.

In Roger De Sa, they have a astute mentor with experience. They need a back-up for their crucial positions upfront in younger and agile goal poachers. With Chiefs' title celebration still not and vibrant, it must be remembered that if overdone, it may be their undoing and the momentum for next season may be lost, but they have monster characters in Bafana players. 

Regardless how one looks at how they came of age, it is worthy to note that their giant mentalities won it for them against weak Platinum Stars who were pretenders to the throne in the later part of the season. In time to separate boys from men, Kaizer Chiefs, Amakhosi, the Glamour Boys of Naturena proved their league involvement this season was no child's play. 

Whether or not they have the pedigree to perpetuate their dominance over a period spurning two overlapping seasons remains to be seen. Only time will tell but for now sithi 'Alala Amakhosi Alala'.   

Thursday, May 16, 2013

UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea win Europa Cup

Chelsea put a very calculative and spirited performance to write history books - being simultaneous European title holders. The UEFA Champions league holders snatched the Europa title from Benfica with seconds on the clock remaining. Ivanovic headed in a corner kick at a time when everyone was preparing for extra time.

Having the titles at the same time, at least for a week is a feat never achieved. The Chelsea victory was an icing on the cake for Rafa Benitez, 'The Interim One' as he leaves his hostile environment in style. Benitez came to Stanford Bridge amid near riot scenes for his relationship with the fans related to his 'statements' while he coached Liverpool.

Besides the unwanted and the departing, another black ship, Frank Lampard captained the side in the absence of the injured John Terry. Lampard seems to be fast disappearing off the Chelsea radar despite his vintage performances and his role as the architect of the glory of Chelsea in Europe and the league where they are likely to finish 3rd.

Lampard entered the record books last week by his double which took his all-time record tall to 203, a club record despite being a midfielder. However, there seems to be no respite as he has not been offered a new contract, something the successor of Benitez will have to deal with. Whether the evergreen maestro is lukewarm concerning the matter, it is not clear there is anyone who can convince the club to consider otherwise.

Lampard was denied by the woodwork with scores tied at 1-1 and the man Sir Alex Ferguson loved not to love, Benitez had the last laugh and what a way to sign off. After what can be described a turbulent season, The Blues got moments to savour following 'near yet so far' loses in the league and FA Cup where they came reasonably close. Congratulations to Rafa Benitez and Chelsea.

Monday, May 13, 2013

With FA Cup win, can Wigan survive the chop?

The excitement of Wigan sinking the mighty Manchester City in the FA Cup on Saturday was quickly overshadowed by the presentation of Manchester United's title in the colourful and emotional day that saw Sir Alex Ferguson officially bade farewell to a legion of football lovers.

United fans felt very special and rightly so, but it was an occasion for all the football world. The landmarks he set and just the sight of the man leaves a mark in the game and in sports in general that will never be achieved or seen. For a moment, we were all united with the United fans in honouring a great man. Even the noisy neighbours were quiet, of course reflecting on the defeat and then admiring the man the loved to hate.

It is the FA Cup that I wished to dwell on. Traditionally the most important match in the world until the era of the Champions League, the FA Cup provided the excitement it is historically known to provide. Underdogs in Wigan outplayed Manchester City from the onset.

Wigan were unlucky with a few marginal decisions which could be within acceptable human error from the officials, to an extent of the denied penalty seconds before their goal. The referee may have tried his level best and the sending off of Zabaleta was right but surely felt harsh that the middle man thought the penalty kick would have been taking away City's chances at the dearth cruel. I think he was relieved Wigan sored from the resultant corner from that questionable tackle.

A near post header settled the tie just seconds before the referee would blow the whistle for the end of regulation time and then the beginning of extra time. City switched off thinking of extra-time but they were on the back foot for most of the match, save for the few telling penetrative moves and completed attacks that will always be dangerous in the presence of David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri, Aguerro and Yaya Toure.

The sucker punch came at a time when City would have no opportunity to fight back. Wigan will need that intuitive and instinctive ability to inflict a killer blow when they play Arsenal this week to retain any hopes to survive the chop int the lower league. Their play proved just one thing, that on a given good day, they can beat the best. It is the story of consistency that bedevilled them and has left them in that precarious position.

In Roberto Martinez, they have a shrewd coach and manager who has been hailed with his survival skills with them last time around and it will be harder this season given that Wigan need to win all their remaining matches and still may get the chop regardless.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moyes appointment would equate to nepotism

Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United's 26 year old reign comes to the gentlest gradient a coaching career can ever take. During these days when the football world was appreciating how German football is ckoke-slamming the Spanish, many had not even digested the greatness of Messi, seen by how much ordinary Barcelona are in his absence.

Many were still having another shot at the effectiveness of Jose Mourinho, given both his tightening of the screw against youthful and fluid Borussia Dortmund in the second leg and the interest of Chelsea to redeem themselves by rehiring him - to me an absolute mistake on the part of The Only One and Roman Abramovich.

All that aside, the speculation of SAF's end has always been speculated since the early part of the decade when he had effectively resigned but made a sudden U-turn. In subsequent years, we all looked for the signs and it became less interesting with time. Somehow, there were no hints even this time, and when it came, the most successful coach in sports had to call it quits.

The scheduling of his hip surgery for August 2013, when the season's preparations are supposed to be in full swing must have been kept secret but it then left all with no choice but to officially announce his retirement. Then the rumours of his possible successor emerged but it was more of speculation. David Moyes is favoured for whatever reason, but maybe, with all due respect to Moyes, Jose Mourinho is the man the manage that team.

The media wastes time narrating and detailing the success of SAF. Who does not know what he achieved? In our lifetime, you can be assured that no one will ever manage pull through for so long with one team. It may never be seen ever.

Jose Mourinho sets trends and records of a different nature and his attention span can never be close to that of SAF. Instead of the doomed grand re-entrance at Stanford Bridge, Mourinho would keep the SAF legacy alive at Old Trafford.

Moyes is able and like Fergie, Scottish. I guess I have an issue with that, because in Africa it would have been called nepotism. Maybe that was not the point but I smell a rat in a Scot replacing a Scot. Are the Scots revenging for the English ridicule at every opportunity, including the saying that copper wire was a result of two Sctos pulling a penny in a fight?  In all speculation since 2002, that name was never ever mentioned.

Ole Gunner Soljkaer, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes were a few tauted names, probably we were being sold a dummy. Moyes has a comfortable job at Everton who may have to bring in a new manager to replace Moyes if the deal goes through.

Anyway, maybe Rafa Benitez will be at the Merseyside next season as he paves way for Mourinho at Stanford Bridge. Whatever happens, Manchester United will have to disintegrate and then rebuild to be a force that it was under SAF. Some big names will surely leave, those loyal to him like Wayne Rooney to Real Madrid or PSG. The new man, say Mourinho will bring his own baggage like Cristiano Ronaldo. The moulding of the team will depend on that chemistry of bonding between the old and the new.

Whoever comes in and whatever they do, they will have a rebuilding exercise whose success will determine how close to the Man U that SAF built they come. It may be good and/or close but never the same.