SA football’s kings of flop

2012-01-04 00:00

With the curtain now closed on a most unusual 12 months for South African football in 2011, commentator and Sport24 columnist MARK GLEESON hands out a few ‘awards’.

The year has ended and the curtain has closed on a most unusual 12 months for South Africa football.

It was always going to be something of an anti-climax after 2010, a year of unrivalled excitement and focus that unfortunately we are unlikely to replicate in our sporting history.

But there was plenty of promise about 2011, notably a consolidation of the Premier Soccer League’s progress, the use of the fabulous new facilities and the hope that Bafana Bafana would advance — on the back of the experience picked up at the 2010 football World Cup — and qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup.

What was expected to be a fairly routine, even forgettable, year turned nasty with the most ridiculous folly and is now forever part of our sporting folklore.

Here are my awards for the footballing year:

FOOL OF THE YEAR:

Unfortunately it goes to Pitso Mosimane and the ridiculous way in which he botched Nations Cup qualification.

A tragedy really for an exciting young coach, but an unforgivable mistake.

In any normal society he would have had to walk after such a mistake, but in South Africa he has been allowed to get away with it and might yet turn into a hero in one year’s time when South Africa host the 2013 Nations Cup finals.

But even if he manages to rehabilitate his reputation with victory in that tournament, his legacy will forever be tainted.

BIGGEST FLOP:

The international political aspirations of Danny Jordaan.

His impatience and unwillingness to serve an apprenticeship in the Confederation of African Football’s ranks before seeking election to the all-powerful Fifa executive committee cost him an embarrassing defeat in his bid to get onto world football’s top table.

He was trounced in February’s elections in Sudan.

An attempted comeback, via the Cosafa structures, was equally catastrophic in November.

BEST PLAYER:

Thulani Serero was so exciting to watch in the first half of the year and then departed our shores.

The second half of the year has not offered anyone of the same quality.

BEST GAME:

Last season’s cracker between Ajax Cape Town and Sundowns at Atteridgeville ended in a 4-4 draw, and effectively ended both side’s title hopes.

Ajax had been 4-1 up in the second half, but Sundowns fought back brilliantly and actually should have won the game 7-4. It was action from end to end.

Ajax’s game against Kaizer Chiefs at Cape Town Stadium was a close second.

BEST COMEBACK:

I’m not yet convinced that Teko Modise is anywhere near his prodigious best of 2008 and 2009, but many people are. And he is scoring … and he is back in the Bafana Bafana squad.

South African football can only be a better place if Modise is on song, although to be a legend he needs to win a championship and lots of cup trophies.

MOST ENJOYABLE MOMENT:

Watching Josta Dladla score four goals in the first four games of the season, including a brilliant header from a man who has hardly ever been more than two inches off the ground.

He has been a charismatic player throughout his career, although never lived up to his true potential.

MOST IRRITATING MAN:

Safa president Kirsten Nematandani spent much of the second part of the year apologising and admitting errors, repeating the much worn phrase that South African football would learn from its mistakes.

You wonder how many mistakes they need to commit before progress is evident.

Nematandani is a well-mannered gentleman with a kindly demeanour. A bit like everyone’s favourite uncle.

But he has none of gravitas needed from a man at the helm of as cut-throat a business as South African football.

With the curtain now closed on a most unusual 12 months for South African football in 2011, commentator and Sport24 columnist MARK GLEESON hands out a few ‘awards’.

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