Monday, August 14, 2017

Manchester United are champions already - to their fans

(Romelu the man - Getty Images)
Manchester United are champions already - to their fans, but there are 37 more matches to play, and they will not West Ham United every weekend.

There is a reason to believe they can go all the way. 

Except for Chelsea fans, everyone knows what Romelu Lukaku scores when he wants. 

Besides, coach Jose Mourinho is known to have a little horse, give it a little milk and it wins the race the next season. JM is not The Special One for nothing and you do not have to like him.

Nemanja Matic proved an asset all know he can be, touching the ball more than any player in the Man U 4-0  win over the Hammers.

The English Premier League season started with a scintillating Arsenal versus Leicester City, with seven marvelous goals and a reasonable pace of the game to match - a 4-3 win for the Gunners.

Amongst much exciting news around the new 2017/18 season, Wayne Rooney scored on his second Everton debut as the Toffees beat Stoke City 1-0, Lukaku scored a double, Matic won the man of the match in his Man U debut and his former club, Chelsea - the champions, lost their opener 3-2 against Burnley.

Disappointing as it may, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool drew 3-3 in their first league match against Watford while Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City convincingly won 2-0 their matches over Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion respectively.

As much as every fan feel their team has the capacity to lift the EPL in May 2018, Man U feel like it is done and dusted and what makes it a solid case is the fear the whole league fears after Paul Pogba also came to the party.

Marcus Rushford was something else and United looked solid and strolled after their third goal, but Manchester City seems to be playing the way the coach ever wanted. 

Arsenal looked a familiar 4th place contender, with the team playing as flat as ever, only different players. Arsene Wenger can be assured of the 'Wenger must go' campaigns very soon. 

Klopp will have a few headaches to nurse as the sting of his tactics have been blunt and seem to be easily neutralized by the English physicality of the game.

Mauricio Pochettino has the same young squad with pace and purpose. Whether they gained enough experience and can challenge for the title will have to depend on the form and fitness of Dele Alli and Harry Kane.

The Spurs advantage is the ability to turn on the style when needed but this is a new season, the fact that the Hurricane did not find the net on Day One is a psychological hump. 

Chelsea seems to be more rugged than fluent in their approach and much will depend on their flexibility as the going gets tough.

I wish I could say much about Leicester City, who kept a core of key players in the league but may lose Jaime Vardy soon, and West Ham who acquired some of the best and experienced footballers around.

May I say as much as I am seduced by Man U, their fans have to chill. Man City is the real deal. Chelsea will be back. Tottenham is still the team to beat.

There is a token challenge from Liverpool and Arsenal and nothing else. Lukaku will be a top scorer without a doubt.

We will unpack the league with a little detail next week.

Let me see if you agree with me that Wenger will fail dismally and finally get fired.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Highlanders: Bobby's Circuit Warm Up

Previously at some post, we detailed a Bobby Circuit warm up routine. Continuing from that, the over and under pattern would repeat itself until the leaders were in front and everyone was done.

The next exercise entailed the front pair sprinting 10 meters and then lay on their stomachs flat on the ground, heads towards each other but creating a 1- meter wide corridor, and the next two doing the same and laying about 2 meters further.

This allowed the whole crew to sprint at full stride over an array of flat bodies.Then the leading pair knelt on all fours, facing each other with about a meter space in between them.

The following pair hopped feet together over the human obstacles and kneeling on all fours, in the same manner, leaving enough space for one to hop over once without
hurting anyone. 

The routine went on until the leaders were in front and everyone had their turn. The benefits of this complete physical condition and cardiovascular and respiratory preparation, was harmony amongst players, as the exercise was such fun.

There would be enough recovery time after each bout of exercise. Pairs always enjoyed competing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to set up an attack

Once the team building process has developed from the goalkeeper, defense organization and midfield preparation, the offensive part is pursued.
Before we engage the actual issues, it must be noted that the goalkeeper, centre back, central midfielder/anchor/destroyer and a good striker form the team spine.

whether you play with one, two or three strikers, you need to employ tactics in the team that will allow one extra fresh player to execute an attack when ball possession is regained.

In the case of a lone striker, think of his abilities. 

Can he play alone as a target man, that is, turning and running or dribbling towards the goal?

Or does he hold on to the ball, screen the defenders off the ball while waiting for support from attacking midfielders who must feed off him? 

Playing with two strikers requires assessing your style of play as a coach critically and other players involved in the attack. 

The two strikers may play square alongside each other or in tandem, one in front of the other. 

When pressing high, football intelligence is critical.

It is unwise to work hard to win the ball up high and when the ball is won, the team has no energy to use it

Attackers need to work antagonistically like pistons during defending high or pressing in the attacking third.

This means that if one attacker approaches the ball, the next one must withdraw a little
body language is key.

The player approaching the ball needs to move in a way to force play in a certain direction.
This gives the trailing player the ability to anticipate well and get a better chance to retrieve the ball.

Tactically, the team is in attack when they have possession of the ball. It means the goalkeeper may initiate many attacks in a match and the attacking tactics must start with him.

The ball distribution from him, that is the ability to accurately pass the ball to a teammate quickly is very critical

This is so, because the team attacking strongly to end the ball with the goalkeeper is out of balance defensively.

The quick and accurate ball release takes advantage of this instability as a counter-attack in initiated. This is the other crucial reason why a team must have a fresh attacker free, possibly along the centre line on the wings.

In attack, the pace is everything. Good offensive teams have quality players who think quicker and act faster.

The margins, in this case, may mean a difference between a good team and the champions. 

Happy coaching folks.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Highlanders; The Technical Advisor

(Bosso Tshilamoya)
I joined the Highlanders Football Club technical team as Technical Advisor in 2001, and, compared to my predecessors, I was too young and had had too much success too early, and the whole deal became disastrous.

Amongst many memorable times, one of my greatest moments at the Club was a match against local city rivals, Amazulu Football Club. We beat Usuthu at Luveve 4-2 coming from 0-2 at half time, in one of Bosso’s best ever games.

During my short stay at Bosso as the TA, we won two trophies after we beat Dynamos twice within weeks of each other. 

It was a Dairiboard Charity Cup at Barbourfields Stadium and the Independence Cup at the National Sports Stadium of Harare.

I am very proud of the achievements of the development program that produced Honour Gombami and Malala among others. During my stay, Mkhokheli Dube and Gilbert Banda were fast maturing and it is fulfilling to see where they are now.

Johannes Ngodzo played his worst football then because he was a Highlanders and then a Railstars player while I was the coach there before he joined Bosso again. He had refused my attempts to keep him with the Sporo men.

In reuniting with him at Tshilamoya, the feeling of guilt hindered his game despite my assurances and encouragement. He could only get his touch back in years to come. 

The upcoming team of that time had potential to move mountains like the famous Liverpool. I proposed that we form a Division 2 football then to afford the youngsters competitive football on a weekly basis. It sounded ridiculous then, to have two Highlanders teams registered in different leagues, according to the team manager, Ernest Sibanda Maphepha. I am glad the system is in operation now.

Working with Kenedy Ndebele, Liqhwa Gama and Isaac Mlilo under the leadership of Mangwana Tshuma was a rewarding experience. There was never a single moment that salaries were not paid on time.

Professionalism was at its best, but the technical team did not measure up to the standards in terms of following the plans and schedules. Everyone was paid their friendly matches appearance fees at the stadium. For international matches, the payment was in cash and 3 days before the travel dates.

That was efficiency at its best. The support given by Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube and Onius Ndebele of Computon was encouraging. They assisted players with their personal needs in their personal capacities.

I had tremendous support and a great relationship with ‘abadala bempankeni’ (elders from the groove), the Board members. They were very encouraging and of course, humorous.

In a different world and at a different time I could have served Bosso in a telling way. I have a conviction that I could have won Africa Champions League with that team and management. I really do. With Captain Fantastic, Thulani Biya Ncube, the first player ever to captain the club team, Under 23 national team and the senior national at the same, the leadership on and off the field strengthened the personal playing attributes of everyone in the team and the dressing room.

I still harbor the ambitions to do so. Time will tell and that is a story for another day.

I have no regrets at all and I learned quite a lot very fast. There was no boring moment and the camping was always a comedy show. The spirit was very good and the unity amazing. Siza 'Nkinko' Khoza always kept everyone in stitches at camp. There were strong characters like Richard Dabuka Express Choruma, Blessing MaGuma Guma Gumiso, Charles Chief Chilufya.

Who can forget Eddie Dube, Melody Nkalakatha Wafawanaka, Gift Thebe Junior, Britto Gwere and Tapuwa Kapini amongst others?

Having a Brazilian mentality of periodisation and sticking to the book at all times, trying to influence a local process purely based on playing experience, was very uncomfortable with our own established set up. 

I compromised on my principles and began to see my appointment as a long-term strategy for the club. And how wrong I was. It lasted 6 months.

My perfectionist attitude did not help much and my high expectations of the Highlanders set-up was very unrealistic. More often than not, success gives the impression that there is progress, but for me success and progress are different, and I was looking forward to getting both simultaneously.

Highlanders won several titles and a few attempts in the African Champions’ League before my arrival at the club. I had watched the latest botched attempt against Cameroon’s Sable de Batiethat was played at the Barbourfields Stadium.

I watched with a lot of interest and analysed it as much as possible and passed my thoughts to the technical team. From that match, I knew it would not be easy to change the fortunes of the team overnight. Exactly 12 months later, I was appointed Technical Advisor and the story was the same. 

As before, this was a home-brewed disaster, many people crossing the bridge before we got to the river. There is no substitute for proper preparation.

The greed of taking the glory of leading the team to Canaan was the war between the technical department, which I was supposed to lead, and the Executive Committee led by late Retired Colonel James Mangwana Tshuma.

The two of us led our camps that had underlying currents, as both our second-in-command did not tango well with each other. In the technical team, the problem was magnified by the fact that Rush needed to take my advice, but he was solely responsible for the team performance and results and had the final say. He made it clear I understood that.

I had acquired a high-level Advanced Diploma in Brazilian Football, of which Professors Carlos Alberto Pereira and Julio Cesar Leal were some of the lecturers. It is not an Advanced Diploma for nothing, and it is not a chance that the Brazilians have won the FIFA World Cup a record six times, and every other football competition in this world.

Other prominent lecturers in that course included Professors Neto Esphezim, Paipfer Lula, Alberto Lancetta and Sebastiao Araujo who wrote many books and played alongside Pele and Mario Zagallo in the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

I really enjoyed a great deal in all the road shows, and the full stadia everywhere we played. I had influence and leadership at promoting Railstars Football Club from the Division One with Barry Daka in 1997 and those moments brought so much joy and satisfaction. 

In between, I formed a Division Two football academy KFA after purchasing Joseph James' Thorngrove status. In 38 matches, we scored over 100 goals and amassed over 100 points but Olivine won the promotion. That Academy produced Farai Zidane Mujokoro.

At the end of my tenure, I was physically and mentally drained and Delma Lupepe asked to assist Jerry Mafripa (MHSRIP) but I could not take up the offer. Lupepe always wanted me to work with Charles Mhlauri at Amazulu before I joined Bosso, but his management team did not play ball and I do not regret I chose Mantengwane.

Do people still sing Mantengwane?

Monday, July 31, 2017

How to work on midfield preparation

As the coach works from the back, the cover for the centre backs is paramount. The decision is whether to use two anchormen or central midfielders or one. 

As in defending, the organisation and the number of players needed must be decided but above all, the coach depends on the material he has. It is his philosophy and quality of players he has.

The idea is that the arrangement should shape well in defending first. Once that is sorted, the attacking option is taken into account.

Going forward, also think about how many players you want in the attacking movement. These midfielders behaviour is critical in the transition, or when the ball changes hands (feet).

As a coach deploying a defensive structure, you give yourself an outlet by setting up for a chance to hurt the opponent by sudden speedy attack once the ball is won.

Midfielders then need to move into offensive positions quickly and effectively. The disguise, creativity and improvisation elements distort the team shape in order to destabilise the opponents and take them out of the best defensive positions.

In all this, remember to close down the spaces behind, or channels on the side or corridors in the middle to avoid the opposition breakthrough. Carelessness in this instance will be counter productive and concentration levels must be high.

Always have a very good defensive shape when attacking. All players need to remember at all times, that when attacking, they will have to defend when the ball is lost and that when defending, they will have to attack when the ball is regained.

the midfield shifting is as important as in defence. The wide players must be able to tuck into central areas when the ball is on the opposite wing or channel. This channel is called the strong channel.

intelligent play will detect that there is always have a ready outlet, usually on the weaker channel. In this case, it must be a very quick player who can run with the ball or dribble.

As soon as the ball is won, switching play diagonally across into space will force defenders to play facing their goalkeeper, a nightmare in any game at any level. 

Let me say that many South African coaches prefer two central midfielders, with one more offensive and the other defensive. They alternate their movements forward all the time.

I personally prefer that both stay, and I have three coming back to receive the ball, turn and join the striker to attack. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The most dramatic football action


The most dramatic football action ever in a real match happened 21 years ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Highlanders; What went wrong with Young Africans?

(This was the team team)
We played a brilliant 2-2 draw in Dar es Salaam and needed to see the video of the match we had played in Tanzania. 

That video could not be made available as it was meant for "pay-per-view" at a location in the western remote part of town, a certain Shisa Nyama. I have not seen the video until now.

One advantage we had in Tanzania was the input of the Simba Football Club coach, Jamhuri Kihwelo, a former national team captain and a friend I had met in Brazil.

While not forthcoming with the information I needed as to how they defended or attacked, he shed light to a few possible tactics like their formation and their most influential players. I must admit the challenge of working with Rahman Rush Gumbo as head coach, Willard Khumalo as an assistant and Ernest Maphepha the Manager. 

These people had great playing history for the club in their distinguished careers. Gumbo had a work routine that only I wanted to improve. It worked for him before and he was comfortable with it.

Our training programs and schedules were solely a case of balancing the technical and tactical jobs and choosing the correct peak periods not to burn out before the climax or hitting peak after the climax of each period.

Rush was solely responsible for the results but we lost our jobs at the same time, despite getting the results. There was no one to blame.

The new Highlanders environment and the size of the responsibility for me were overwhelming. I had been Gumbo's coaching instructor in his coaching courses and therefore could not deputize him. It was two bulls in the same kraal, never easy on job ethics.

On the return leg against Yanga, our preparations were sluggish and arrogant. We trained less and the input was very average. The suggestion to practise penalties was scorned at because as coaches, we did not give the Tanzanians any chance against us.

We camped just after Windemere for most of the 2 weeks and moved to Cresta Churchill the night before the match. It was a very late arrangement to move camp. 

During the match, the right winger made a few dangerous entries into the final third on the right, and delivered a few crosses. We failed to rectify the situation, even though we had identified it early enough. 

I remember Barry Daka coming near the dug out and advising of the same, that the winger must be dealt with. Before he sat down, the cross was delivered and a header score to the far post.

A duplicate move resulted in the second goal later in the half. Players got desperate and fans got frustrated. Impatience in the attack made it difficult to get a goal. Anxiety and disbelief consumed the players and their energy levels dropped. 

Loss of concentration and desperation resulted in a penalty, with 5 minutes of play left. The fans had enough and ran onto the field in protest. I do not believe the penalty was genuine but the fans could not take another goal well.

The violence that followed the 3-0 loss at home in the return leg led to the ban in the Africa Champions League by the Confederation of African Football, CAF.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How to defend

(Mourinho's tactical thinking)
Defending is the first point of preparation and building a team. Defence is the best form of defending. Saying defending is the best form of attack is an insult to the game.

It means the progress of the attack of the opposition must be halted, usually as far away from the goal as possible.

This is not always possible. Just as well, it may not be necessary to commit high up the field if the opponent is in full control of possession.

This is due to easy creating of distances between the defending team players and spaces between units (defence, midfield, and attackers).

When the opponents reach the midfield third, spaces between defenders and units must be reduced, and the angles must be narrow and correct, and the distances between defenders must be shorter.

It can never be over-emphasised, the necessity and urgency of this scenario once the attack is increased and enters the final third.

At this point, regardless of the defending tactics, man-to-man marking is mandatory, no matter the level of the game or professionalism.

At all times, defending must begin with an individual, usually one nearest the ball. Supporting defending players must anticipate the ball movement.

For a technically superior team, it may be hard to choose the moment to engage in a defending action such as a tackle or cover. This is because of the unpredictability and quick decision making of top professionals.

However, if the opponents are of inferior technical ability, all pressure, anywhere and anytime will lead to a series of errors.

The higher up the field the errors occur, the better. This is due to the fact that the next attack can be initiated closer to the target.

As a general rule, up the field, marking is zonal, meaning that the players close the spaces and do not mark man-to-man.

In the defending third, it must always be man-to-man, while in midfield, it can be a mixture of the two tactics.

In summary, the principles of defending are; deny space and time, cover your team mate, anticipate the thinking of the attacker and their movement and the movement of the ball,
intercept the ball and support among others.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Highlanders played Jomo Cosmos

(Bosso rumoured to visit RSA  soon)
Few weeks after the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Highlanders Football Club, the team known as Amahlolanyama of the Mantengwane fame traveled to Johannesburg by road to play the then First Division side, Jomo Cosmos.

The trip was Bosso’s first in more than 25 years. The match took place at the Johannesburg Stadium attracting 20 000 spectators and ending 0-0.

The match raised awareness of Xenophobia attacks and money for the victims of hate crime that began to spread in informal settlements of South Africa.

The noble cause of the organizers was overshadowed by the rousing welcome the team received by those who relived the glory of yesteryears.

The anti-climax of the display on the pitch epitomized what many shuddered to think about, that their beloved Highlanders had become a toothless bulldog.

Zimbabweans in Bulawayo knew how badly the team had deteriorated, but for everyone else, the state of denial never left until the fateful afternoon.

The once mighty team of the nation were indeed the weeping boys of the game they owned. Prior to the trip, the club faced disciplinary action and the magistrates’ courts for different reasons.

Fans had rioted at matches and the several debtors attached club equipment and property. The coach was Mohammed Fathi of Egypt, and a few months later, he took the club to the labor court to demand his payments. 

In short, the club had no money but plenty of debts.

Many people could not believe how average a team like Highlanders can become. You may have thought Bosso players had an opportunity to display their skills.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to counter the start/restart strategy

(Strategise as a coach -  Plan to plan)
We discussed how the start/restart has changed in recent months and how it is used. There was a brief look at how one can take advantage of the situation, but usually, you may be the small team and you face the similar situation.

How then, do you counter the long diagonal ball across, when playing against a technically superior team?

If you are the weak team playing against a team that will do that, then you need a counter strategy. 

Your wing defenders and wingers need to drop a little in anticipation of the long diagonal ball and runners. 

This ensures that the ball gets to them first or it falls in front of them without having to turn and face their goalkeeper from the onset.

In case the ball falls in front of them, and taken by an opponent, the wing players will have to use the touch line as a team mate and shuttle the opponent across the field or to play back. Then the objective is achieved.

No player wants to be tackled in the first minute or before the whole team has touched the ball. The other necessary thought to bank on is that the whole defense has time to shift while the ball is in the air. 

So, either way, use the tactic to intimidate a small team, and if you are small, do not be intimidated. Be prepared. Start at training.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Highlanders; Did you know?

Highlanders Football Club was the first club to undertake a European tour in 1986 when the team toured Germany.

The successful trip profited the team as they had two luxury buses donated by their hosts. Willard Mashinkila Khumalo ?(mhsrip) and Madinda Ndlovu secured contracts that kept them there until the twilight of their careers.

Bosso had also achieved a first in becoming the first football club in Zimbabwe to engage the services of a foreign coach. Bobby Clark became responsible for the well-oiled development programs and coach education.

Years after he left, training sessions still dwelt on his imaginative physical sequential warm–up routine named after him.

The Bobby Circuit was a complete dynamic wholesome and rhythmic group exercise that catered well for a huge number of people.

Paired according to size, stamina, and speed, players would jog thrice or so around the pitch in two rows. 

The leading pair would sprint for about 10 meters and then revert to the jog, and then the next two would do the same overtaking the leaders, and keep a 10-metre distance ahead of the leaders and so forth until the leaders were in their initial leading position.

Next, in a similar fashion, it would develop into a zig-zag sprint until, again, the leaders were ahead of the pack and every pair had their turn. The leaders determined what came next and they would wait until all had their turn.

Those in front would then bend over, feet astride for the next pair to jump over them. The third pair would jump over the first and crawl under the next two, all at very high pace.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How to think offensive from the onset

(Attack is the best form of attack)
In starting a match, the ball should not be played backward if the team is attack minded.

At the start of each match, all one can see now is the same boring and useless routine of playing a long ball back. Why? I would love to hear the logic from the experts.

To me, that is exactly one way not to score a goal. It is an extremely negative act of the beautiful game. Actually, it is very ugly.

The rule before adjustment was that the ball should move forward a distance equivalent to its circumference and that the opposition players must be 9.15 meters or 10 yards from the ball.

The last portion of the statement was what made the center circle necessary.
It serves the same purpose as the D-arc, which ensures the distance between the penalty spot (ball) and the rest of the players.

How can one capitalise on the rule change for an attacking advantage? We will address the issue in the next post.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How to capitalise on new rule changes

(Coaching Board)
The European Championship in 2016 brought something new at the start and restart of play. Play can start once the ball moves. The issue of direction was made redundant.

How do you take advantage of that play at the restart? If you have a ball, there must be wingers in the team ready to attack. These wing players must stay a meter of so away from the center line to sprint to the ball.

With one single diagonal kick, the ball can land behind opposition wing defenders, forcing them to defend facing their goal before even kicking the ball.

If the opposition is a small or weak team playing away from home, this drives fear in the team. They feel they are at the wrong place before the match really gets under way.

Their supporters feel the same pressure and can start whistling and booing their own team. The situation is not different if the match is home. The home fans begin to doubt their team's ability to play a high profile match, team or competition.

That is all you may need if all of your tactics are spot on. It is a cutting edge that your opposition may not anticipate.

In the next post, we will look at defending and how to coach it.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mamelodi Sundowns make CAF Champions League fashionable

(Judas Moseamedi -  2017 Castle Cosafa Plate winner)
The South Africa national team won the 2017 Castle Cosafa Plate on Friday night, and we already forgot they are champions. That is all we can say about that.

Mamelodi Sundowns have made the CAF Champions League fashionable. 
The revived the interest and have turned up the style.

Since the Orlando Pirates victory in 1995, Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs had reached the finals once before Minwana Phezulu recently won it.

Dynamos of Zimbabwe reached the finals on two separate occasions in between, and they were coached by the new Castle Cosafa Cup winner, Sunday Chidzambwa.

This tournament used to be the domain of Zamalek. Al Ahli, Rajah Casablanca, JS Kabilye, Esperance, Asante Kotoko, Hearts of Oak of Ghana and Canon Younde, just to name a few.

For some reasons, South African teams never took participating in Africa worthwhile, until now. It was probably financially unwise as the local teams lost resources and risked injuries instead of focussing on the local league and cups.

Since Sundowns gave this tournament their all, it has suddenly improved in stature and interest in South Africa and the continent has immensely increased.

The long-term effect on Bafana Bafana performance can never be over-emphasised. Losing the quarter-final in the Castle Cosafa Cup to Tanzania at home was an embarrassment. 

However, most South African teams playing club continental football are doing very well and that minor setback shall be forgotten.

Both Platinum Stars and Supersport United are progressed very well, with Supersport and Sundowns already in the knockout stages of the tournament - the quarter-finals of their respective competitions.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Zimbabwe beat Zambia 3-1 in 2017 Cosafa Final

(Karuru - Zimbabwe Captain and  Cosafa Top Goal Scorer)
Zimbabwe beat Zambia 3-1 in the 2017 Castle Cosafa Cup in a tactically superior battle of the titans. While playing hard and positive, the display was not direct but calculated.

The Zimbabweans lifted the Cup a record 5th time. They score their 19th goal in 6 matches. 

Eleven of those goals came from Karuru (6) and Mutizwa (5). They showed maturity from match day one until the end.

It must be said that both these countries' players exhibited similar playing intelligence in terms of anticipation, execution of basic technique and tactical awareness.

The final third entry proved to be exceptionally quick and the penetration very sleek for both sides. As a way to cement the point that the two countries deserved to play the final, the play was always switched from flank to flank, channel to channel, zone to zone and unit to unit with great peripheral vision.

It proved to be a great game of football overall and South Africa could do well to take some notes. Most of the game's characteristics result from sound football development structures.

Compared to South Africans, the Zimbabwean and Zambian players calculated 4 to 6 moves in advance like chess players. The Bafana Bafana seem to receive the ball, do everything they way and then decide what to do with it next.

In the group stages, Zimbabwe scored 12 goals without reply, announcing their intentions loud and clear. They were by far the most complete team, with the flawless attacking brand of football and solid defending.

Knox Mutizwa was Player of the Tournament, while Ovidy Karuru top scored with 6 goals. Tanzania provided the Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Of 2017 Cosafa and Confederations Cup

(2017 Confed Champs; Photo by Getty images)
The Cosafa hosts and holders, South Africa, lost the quarter-final 1-0 to tournament invitees, Tanzania. Our previous assertion that the losers of the quarter-finals do go home in the last article was wrong. They play in the other less prestigious semi-final for the Plate.

Stuart Baxter's Bafana Bafana pathetically tried to play football for 90 + minutes without success. With less pressure in playing for a plate, they may rise. Zimbabwe were in no charitable mood, dispatching Swaziland 2-1.

In the Russia Confederations Cup, Portugal had to stretch every sinew to beat a determined Mexican side 2-1 for the bronze. Mexico led 1-0 until about the last kick of the regulation time. Pepe equalised and sent the match to extra time.

The momentum was with the Europeans and the South Americans suffered a sucker punch through a well converted penalty.

Germany reigned supreme, beating Chile by an odd goal. The Fifa World Cup champions played second fiddle for the best part of the match. They capitalised on the silliest mistake any school team can make.

A sequence of casual back passes led to the simple dispossession of the defender, square pass and a simple tap in. The South Americans through every kitchen sink at Germany without success.

Germany won the Confederations Cup for the first time, not without a sweat. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The 2017 Cosafa format not good

The 2017 Castle Cosafa format is bad and unfair. The thinking behind the idea of denying other players game-time is unclear. 

The Fifa ranking used byes should have been used for group seeding. As it is, lower ranked teams like Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles and Madagascar come and play 3 matches. 

Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia and Namibia join in at a later, play 90 minutes and go home, if unlucky. 

A nation must not prepare, camp and travel for a single match, because as seeded teams, they only play quarter finals.

Few players come in as substitutes, play 10 or 5 minutes, lose and go home, just like that. To be fair and for developmental purposes, all teams must play group stages.

Those 10/15 minute players do not have an opportunity to showcase their talents. They come to the tournament looking to audition for the Absa Premier League showcase. Eve though their national teams are ranked higher, coaches get a chance to see more of the unseeded team players. 

Most players want to play more. There is no incentive to be highly ranked if it means playing less. Hopefully, the organisers will have a look and see if their format can be made to benefit all equally. It could be cost related, but then rather compromise on the overall prize money.

Seeded teams can win it after 3 matches, while the qualifiers need 6 matches to win it. These have an advantage of having warmed up to the finals long enough, though burn out and fatigue due to short recovery periods between matches can be counter-productive.

What has been your Cosafa moment so far?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

German supremacy vs Africa demise

(Is Germany willing to share success recipe?)
This is a game of football, simplified by playing and complicated by coaches. In Africa, this is not true. Football administrators stuff things up, big time.

Are Africans football bosses "dataproof" or just allergic to information? Maybe simply put, they are dead dumb. Their vision is extremely blurred.

This is not surprising given the civil war on the continent. As long as wallets are lined up, all can suffer all they want. 

Football can rot to its satisfaction, to its heart's content. No wonder the game of talented players is a laughing stock to the world. It is no coincidence.

This calamity is a grand design perpetuated by the greedy and unscrupulous leaders with little or no fibre or bone of shame in their frames.

Remember the tired and wasted government to government agreements to develop football in Africa by Germany? Where is Germany today (2014 Fifa World Champions and 2017 Fifa Confederation Cup finalists) and where is Africa (turmoil and developmental regression)?

South Africa got Horste Kriete  and Zimbabwe got Reinhard Fabisch in the mid and late 1990s. Namibia had Jochen Pigge and Klaus Starke. This is an example of many in Africa.

What was the role and importance of these characters? To make Africa great again. Look at the Germany national team, then and now. Look at their development structures and the coach education.

Either they have fake things or Africans are utterly stupid. If not, Cameroon or any other African team was supposed to face Germany in the 2017 Confed Cup this weekend.

Go to Germany schools and see the qualifications of those who coach the children. They all play the same way as the national team. Compare that to the South Africans.

How many Germans have UEFA A and South Africans with CAF A? Enough of that. We will discuss another day.

I do not believe an adversary can prepare another for their benefit. Let us assume the Germans had Africa interests at heart. They gave their manpower and resources for free. 

Why did Africans fail to learn? We are assuming they got super education and means. I have no doubt of the ability of African players and coaches. I mention coaches because African coaches go to Europe and excel in UEFA C, B, A and Pro courses and even better their counterparts performances.

It may have seemed harsh to say our administrators have thick skulls, but how else can one explain it? Please enlighten us if you can. And can football superpowers really share relevant fresh up to date information with Africans because they know Africans are harmless mentally?

Let us use my theory that Europeans are out to murder African football by feeding the coaches and players with poisonous tactics and knowledge. How else would they approach this? Sponsor a detrimental and outdated obsolete program and keep plummeting the opponents to a football pulp.

African players possess the potential to undo any science and artificial tactics and plans. African coaches have not been given enough chance, resources or salaries to execute their duties as much as European counterparts. 

Until that happens, judging them is extremely unfair. In any case, less brainy or less qualified coaches are preferred by the big fish because they can manipulate them and give them less money.

That cycle can be repeated until another leader with a strong appetite for corruption takes office. 

Meanwhile, let us acknowledge the great development structures the Germans put in place. One can see the fruits of this young team at the 2017 Russia Confederation Cup. This team, besides the results, is dynamic, full of oomph, tearing down teams and going places.

All the best Die Mannschaft.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fifa must introduce Intercontinental championships

Imagine Africa versus  Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania, South America or the Middle East in a world cup tournament. Fifa must introduce the Fifa Intercontinental World Cup a year before the Fifa Confederation Cup, making it a year after the Fifa World Cup.

This is the only way that Africa may compete on equal footing and have a fair chance to compete. Of course, CAF will have to improve, and given that Issa Hayatou has been toppled by Ahmed Ahmed, I believe the new broom has proved better already.

Africa always produced world beaters, some justifiably changing allegiance for socio-economic reasons. The best of African players in the world forming a superpower is not a wild dream. It is possible.

For Africa to make its mark, they will have to do this independently, with the Afro identity of African football of flair and artistry. 

One remembers the 1998 France World Cup. To some, it was Africa's World Cup win as once prophesised by Pele -  that an African team would win the Fifa World Cup before the year 2000. The French team had a fair share of players of African origin but France is in Europe.

While the current crop of Africans in the top leagues does not inspire much confidence to the likes of Rabah Majer, Yusuf Fofana, Roger Millar, Lucas Radebe, Bruce Grobelaar, George Weah, Peter Ndlovu, Kalusha Bwalya, Benni McCarthy and Didier Drogba, there is a new crop which includes Riyad Mahrez and Emerick Aubemayeng.

Making it to the Africa 11 would excite both elite players and prospective internationals.

Who makes your Africa 11 today?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The great Cosafa tournament begins with a bang

Top players in the world, some from the north and west Africa, play about 38 league matches, 12 European championship matches and 8 cup matches - 58 top class matches against the toughest possible opposition in a season.

Additionally, some seasons may include 12 World Cup or 12 continental qualifiers, 4 Club World Cups, 5 Confederations Cups (17) - a total of 75 topnotch matches. 

Some Africa football leagues play 30 matches, and no cup tournaments, or at best, 4 extra matches to reach a final if lucky. And the opposition, the training, the pitches and matches are not that mind-blowing.

Can our best be world beaters, or we are wasting our time?

The Council Of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) Castle Cup, celebrating 20 years of existence, began this week in the North West. Zimbabwe, former multiple tournament winners, started the regional showcase with a bang, actually, four bangs past Mozambique. 

Madagascar also beat Seychelles to secure a first win, all at the Moruleng Stadium managed by Brown Mapologela.

Angola and Tanzania also won their opening fixtures in the preliminary round, beating Mauritius and Malawi respectively. It must be noted that the quarter-finals from Saturday will involve countries winning their respective groups.

South Africa, Lesotho. Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Botswana are the region's top ranked teams and do not play preliminary rounds. Tanzania are a guest team, normally playing in the Council of East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) tournament.

It is important for all fans, coaches, players and the national associations to to take Cosafa, Cecafa and CHAN - the domestic version of AFCON, very seriously. Due to lack of sustainable sponsorship in the domestic leagues in Africa, especially, East and Southern Africa, extra high quality game time is irreplaceable.

Cosafa, Cecafa and CHAN presents regional players with an extra playing time opportunity and a small window to make extra cash and market oneself. National associations need to invest more time and other resources to ensure survival of the project.

Everything must be done to encourage players, inspire coaches, educate administrators and equip associations through the organisation of the tournaments.

A good thing is that there is now also an Under 20 Cosafa tournament and many nations must be encouraged to use age proper youths. 

I have always advocated for the Cosafa Champions League. Do you agree?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

African football - no growth

(Nigeria;1996 Atlanta Olympics Champions - Panenka)
African football associations through miseducated and colonised leadership always paid huge sums for expatriates to come and develop the game, to no avail.

That mercenary hiring appetite seem unquenchable to date, but where is the Africa game, over 50 years since the formation of Confederation of African Football (CAF)?

The senseless football politicians labour to squander resources at the expense of toiling players and hurl insult at the disrespected local coaches who do so much with nothing.

Until 1990, when Cameroon beat Fifa World Cup champions with Diego Maradona, displayed top class playing ability and got cheated by officials and unfair play of England in the quarter-finals, Africa only asked to have more teams playing international matches and tournaments without adding any value.

That great team included Thomas Nkono, Roger Milla, Oman Biyik and Cryil Makanacky. It gave hope to many, that on a level playing field, Africans can perform. It was during the times that George Weah of Liberia and Abedi Pele of Ghana were arguably the best players in the whole world.

Among many memorable moments that are far between, the world rose in awe, as Nigeria won the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold. Daniel Amokachi, Nwanko Kanu and Emmanuel Amunike were among a young crop of that generation. There was hope that maybe, just maybe, Africa had arrived.

Actually, two years before, Clemens Westerhof took the Super Eagles to within a minute to a quarter-final past Italy in the USA 94 Fifa World Cup. Rashidi Yekini, Peter Rufai, Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Sunday Oliseh, Victor Ikpeba and Austin JJ Okocha are some of the players of that special team.

Since, we have seen cameo challenges with Senegal of Al Haji Diouf in 2002 Fifa World Cup, and Ghana of 2010 South Africa Fifa World Cup, who were hard done by Luiz Suares' hand ball. Curse? I wonder.

The point is that, since these  documented heroics, the quarter-finals of the Fifa World Cups has been the ceiling, especially until the last minutes of the matches, despite the abundant playing talent.

As for the Fifa Confederation Cups, it has always been a disaster. Sterile performances and results are an eye sore. On top of that, another Fifa World Cup is around the corner and there is no hope whatsoever.

With overpaid foreign coaches, there seems to be no growth in the African game, tactically. What is Africa paying for?  

If all the cash used to pay astronomical mercenary fees was ploughed into football coaching education, results would be different, but do not involve foreigners in this process at all. Which European or South American country wants to see Africa dominate? 

Coach education for Africans should be by Africans for Africans. Until then, other confederations will use Africans as a punch bags and compete to see who can suck the most points from the naive black continent, and then go and compete at higher levels by themselves.

Africa goes to these tournaments to contribute points and goals for countries like Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, England, Chile and others.

Then they come back to us with an olive branch, actual, a helping hand as they offer courses and partnerships for free. Free??? Africa loves freebies. The intellectually challenged football politician 
smiles ear to ear thinking Germany, Netherlands, England and others came here to make us beat them. Woooow.

What is education supposed to do? Or does politics disregard use of brains?