Where is my Christmas?

South Africa’s PSL clubs will all be hoping for some Christmas gifts, but what would be their number one choice in presents?

Ajax Cape Town
A new spine to run through the team.

AmaZulu
Where do we start?

Bidvest Wits
Papy Faty and Calvin Kadi back on the field.

Bloemfontein Celtic
No gift, we already got Clinton Larsen back!

Chippa United
Can we keep David Zulu?

Free State Stars
Moeketsi Sekola’s transfer price to keep rising!

Kaizer Chiefs
We have got everything we want, thanks.

Mamelodi Sundowns
A speed train to catch the runaway train.

Maritzburg United
Keep Mondli Cele’s name far away from the ‘The Big Three’

Moroka Swallows
Water wings for the Dube Birds to stay afloat come season end.

Mpumalanga Black Aces
A primary sponsorship deal.

Orlando Pirates
Senzo Meyiwa’s replacement.

Platinum Stars
Replacements for Ng’ambi, Ngele and Mpeta and fast!

Polokwane City
Cotton wool to protect Cole Alexander and Puleng Tlolane.

SuperSport United
More goals out of Ndlovu, Grobler, Chapman.

University of Pretoria
A recording of their 5-1 thrashing pf Polokwane City to watch and learn how to do it again.

My Bafana 11 vs Cote d’Ivoire

Bafana Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba on Tuesday named his squad for the Nelson Mandela Challenge against the Ivory Coast and this is the 11 that I would pick.

South Africa welcome The Elephants to the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday 30 November, fresh off their successful 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

My Team:

Brilliant Khuzwayo – Thulani Hlatshwayo, Erick Mathoho, Kwanda Mngonyama, Patrick Phungwayo – Themba Zwane, Oupa Manyisa, Asavela Mbekile, Vuyisile Wana – Puleng Tlolane, David Zulu

3 Ways for Bafana fans to improve

I liked what my colleague and friend Robert Marawa had to say on his radio show last night. The South African fans, that’s you and I, are the biggest stumbling block to our national team’s progress.

Does Marawa have a point? Yes he does. Like Mzansi’s favourite presenter, I too have been reporting on BafanaBafana and PSL football since the 1990s and there has been a common trend of supporters never being satisfied.

I include myself here too because I have also complained about player selection and been frustrated with team performances. But uniting behind the coach and his team now is first priority.

Football - 2015 African Cup of Nations Qualifier - South Africa Press Conference - Garden Court - Polokwane

We have got our wish now. Shakes Mashaba has built a team around youth. There are fresh faces, there are players with huge talent. We are winning matches and scoring goals.

What more could fans ask for, right? Wrong. Fans are already asking for changes and being negative. When Rivaldo Coetzee (17) was picked in the starting eleven, fans complained and said ‘who is this kid? Tefu Mashamaite should have started instead’.

But after Rivaldo’s classy debut, the language changed. Will this attitude ever change? I don’t know. We are such a passionate bunch, but for the good of Bafana, perhaps Marawa is correct in saying that the South African fan needs a mental/ physcological shift to take place, just like what is happening in Bafana.

The players believe in themselves again. The spirit is coming back. The desire is there. They are positive. Now the fans need to follow suit.

Yes, things are going well, hence we need the support to keep it going well. After 15 years of underachievement, our confidence is still brittle – one or two bad results and Shakes’ reign could crumble. People are already ready to get on his case as soon as they have half a chance… it’s a critical stage in SA soccer history

My 3 key areas for us fans to improve on:

1 – Improve your technical and tactical knowledge. Go and watch the players training or playing matches before commenting about them or moaning about their selection. Sometimes we complain without even knowing which team the player belongs to let alone understanding what he offers.

2 – Put aside club loyalties and realise the South African national team is the country’s most important team. If you love Kaizer Chiefs and an Orlando Pirates player is selected for Bafana Bafana in place of your club hero, then get over it. You need to change your lenses and look at Bafana through a new, clear set of lenses. Otherwise you will never improve as Bafana fan.
3 – Go to the stadium. Armchairs critics are the worst. We have all done this in our lives. On a TV screen you can only see so much of a game. You miss the runs that players make off the ball for example. The more you watch from the stadium seats, the more you see and learn. And the more right you have to air your views on the team.
Now, enjoy the match against Congo in Polokwane!

In Numbers: Shakes’ new-look Bafana Bafana

Here are some fascinating facts around the rather surprising Bafana Bafana squad selected by coach Shakes Mashaba for the 2015 Africa Nations Cup Qualifiers away to Sudan on September 6.

2 – The number of players that have never played a professional football match. Ayabulela Magqwaka is still an Ajax Cape Town youth player and Dumisani Msibi a SuperSport United youth player.

2 – Just two defenders of the nine selected have 10 caps or more. Anele Ngcongca has 35 and Thabo Matlaba has 10.

3 – The number of teenagers in the squad; Dumisani Msibi [19], Rivaldo Coetzee [17] and Ayabulela Magqwaka [18].

8 – There are eight players in the squad who have never won a full international cap before. Coetzee, Msibi, Magqwaka, Bongi Ntuli, David Zulu, Bongani Ndulula, Keagan Dolly and Ramahlwe Mphahlele.

20 – Other than Itumeleng Khune on 64 caps, the only other players in the squad to have represented the national team 20 times or more are defender Anele Ngcongca (35 caps) and striker Tokelo Rantie (20 caps).

23.7 – The average age of Mashaba’s first squad clearly looks toward the future.

64 – Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is the senior citizen of the squad, with 64 caps under his belt.

217 – The amount of combined caps between the 25 players selected to go to Sudan.

2022 – Mashaba says he has picked the squad with a view on SAFA’s Vision 2022 as South Africa use the years between now and 2022 to be among the best on the continent and in the world.

Throwback Thursday with Dutch legend Aron Winter

Former Dutch international Aron Winter played at four FIFA World Cups and rubbed shoulders with four generations of players. He is a man who speaks with authority. I got the chance to sit with him a while back and talk football…

“I was very lucky to begin my career so young because I got to play with four generations and it rubbed in. I started at the time with Arnold Muhren in the 1988 Uefa Championship which we won,” says Winter.

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“Then I also played afterwards with the group of Gullit, Koeman, Rijkaard and Van Basten.

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“Then there was an older generation of Bergkamp, De Boer, Seedorf and Davids. And then finally the younger one of Van der Vaart and Sneijder … I have played with them all.

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So from all the players Winter played alongside, I asked him what his Best 11 was. Not an easy one to answer as you can imagine!

BEST TEAMMATES I PLAYED WITH

1 Edwin Van der Sar – 2 Guiseppe Bergomi, 4 Ronald Koeman, 5 Frank Rijkaard, 3 Frank de Boer – 7 Ruud Gullit, 6 Clarence Seedorf, 8 Roberto Baggio, 11 Marc Overmars – 9 Ronaldo, 10 Marco Van Basten

Bench: Dennis Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, Kanu, Paul Gascoigne, Alen Boksic, Richard Witschge, Guiseppe Signori, Jocelyn Angloma

Throwback Thursday: Tico-Tico Bucuane

Besides starring for Jomo Cosmos where he won the Coca-Cola Cup and SAA Supa 8, Manuel ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane also played for Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United later in his PSL career and is regarded as one of the top 10 foreigners ever to play in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.

Tico-Tico made over 80 appearances for Mozambique’s national side and also had stints playing in Portugal, America and China in a career spanning 19 years.

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SHORT PASSES:

Toughest PSL opponent: There were so many great defenders, but Cyril Nzama was always kicking me and was tough to play against. He wasn’t fair when he played against me (Laughing).

Player you combined with best in the PSL: I played with so many, but the players I really combined with well were Tebogo Mokoena at Cosmos, Teko Modise who I played with at SuperSport United and Benedict Vilakazi at my time with Orlando Pirates. These are just some of the guys that I would combine with nicely.

Foreigner who made biggest impact in the PSL during your time: So many, but I think a guy like Musa Otieno for what he did at Santos. He helped them achieve so much against the odds and he served them so loyally. He is a great player and great ambassador away from the field. He is still serving them today.

Smallest PSL pay cheque: It was probably around R1 500 per month.

Biggest PSL pay cheque: It was around R40 000 which I think was good for back then.

Current occupation: I have a youth academy in Maputo and I am really enjoying this.

Former teams: Desportivo de Maputo, Estrela da Amadora, Jomo Cosmos, Tampa Bay Mutiny, Jomo Cosmos, Supersport United, Orlando Pirates, Maritzburg United, Desportivo de Maputo

Schut or Teko get my vote

My take on why Mamelodi Sundowns’ league championship-winning pair Teko Modise and Alje Schut will fight it out for South Africa’s Player of the Season.

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Teko Modise

The Sundowns playmaker is the popular choice for Player of the Season after his consistent performances in the Sundowns engine room, which often sparked The Brazilians into attack. Modise has matured at Sundowns under Pitso Mosimane and took responsibility for creating goals and scored some crucial ones too. He will go head to head with teammate Schut for the award. Will it be Modise’s magic or Schut’s authority in defence that wins the award? Either way, both players will be worthy winners after impressing in the yellow and blue of Sundowns.

Season rating: 9/10

Alje Schut

Without the big Dutch defender Mamelodi Sundowns would not be challenging for honours. He has been that good, that reliable and that professional. Schut’s composure and winning mentality has rubbed off on his teammates and he has played a leading role in the team, both in defence and adding an attacking threat on set pieces. Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt once said that ‘strikers win you games and defenders win you leagues’. Schut has proved that under Pitso Mosimane’s care this season and if the judging panel decide that it was Sundowns’ defence that proved most influential throughout the season, then Schut is likely to win the award ahead of Modise.

Season rating: 9/10

Bernard Parker

The Kaizer Chiefs man has been superb this season as Amakhosi failed in their attempt to defend their League title. He is right up there in the chase for the top scorer award, but with his own form and that of his team fading as the season came to an end, he is unlikely to win the Player of the Season award. Parker has matured into a top class professional. Despite strong competition from the likes of Majoro, Nkhatha and Musona he has remained the club’s key striker throughout the season.

Season rating: 7/10

Sibusiso Vilakazi

The Bidvest Wits captain has played a skipper’s role better than anybody else in the PSL. He is a box to box midfielder who also scores goals from midfield and several of those strikes have been important goals that have taken his team on to victories. He has also cracked the Bafana Bafana squad this season and it is no surprise that Chiefs, Sundowns and Pirates are all looking for his signature. However, both Vilakazi and his club are hopeful of an overseas move in future.

Season rating: 9/10

Willard Katsande

Katsande is the most improved player in the PSL right now. The hard tackling Zimbabwean has a huge appetite for the game and he has clearly listened to his coach worked on his game to the point where he is now a match winner and not just a defensive midfielder with one dimension to his game. There is more to the man now as an all action midfielder, but sadly for Amakhosi his efforts were just not enough to retain the league crown.

Season rating: 8/10

Robert Ng’ambi

Platinum Stars won both the 8 and Telkom Knockout but are struggling to secure a Top 8 League finish this season. A lot of their cup success this season is down to team work and the impact of players like Mere, Ngele, Botes, Gumede and Mbatha. But Ng’ambi is the pick of the bunch. A classy goal scoring midfielder who performs week in and week out. That Sundowns have tried desperately to sign him symbolises his class. Three goals in their 8 triumph, one in the TKO and just over a handful in the League highlight his value to Dikwena.

Season rating: 7/10