Where did all the goals go?

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Congratulations are in order for Orlando Pirates on reaching the semi-finals of the CAF Champions League, a feat they last achieved in 2006.

It is also worth noting that they are the only club from Southern Africa to have won this title, albeit in its old name of African Club Champions, in 1995.

They emerged out of what was dubbed the 'Group of Death' as it contained two Egyptian giants in Zamalek and Al-Ahly. The latter, who have won the tournament an unprecedented seven times and lost in the final twice, yet again showed their pedigree by finishing top of this group.

The other club was AC Leopards from Congo-Brazzaville, who finished bottom of the group.

Pirates’ progress in this competition has been impressive and has struck a positive blow for South African football which is in the doldrums. It has given hope that they might just repeat their 1995 feat.

While the signs are positive for South African football, a few concerns need to be raised though.

The goalless draw in Sunday’s match against Al-Ahly was indicative of South African football. It was not because Pirates did not create enough chances to win the match, but poor finishing saw to it that the match ended with a blank sheet on both sides.

Daine Klate and Siphiwe Mbuyane at least, should have converted the chances that presented themselves to them.

But goal-scoring - or lack of it - is the scourge of South African football at all levels from junior sides up to Bafana Bafana.

This has contributed to our teams’ failure to qualify or even make any progress on the international front.

It is for this reason that to date all we can gloat about is Pirates’ 1995 victory, Bafana Bafana’s 1996 Africa Cup of Nations triumph and Kaizer Chiefs’ victory in the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup which was also known as the Nelson Mandela Cup and is now called the CAF Confederations Cup in 2001.

One doesn’t have to look any further than our top league, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to see that goal-scoring is really a problem in this country.

Just this past weekend, a total of six matches produced a mere 14 goals, which is just above two goals per match. In fact, only two matches - Kaizer Chiefs’ 2-1 victory over Platinum Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns’ win by the same margin over Bidvest Wits produced three goals - with all the other four matches yielding a maximum of two goals.

This is one of the things that contribute to fans staying away from stadiums.

And in sharp contrast, you look at the English Premier League, where Manchester City scored four goals to a single reply against arch-rivals Manchester United.

That makes for exciting football, a derby that produces five goals.

Here at home, the Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates Soweto derby, rarely producers an avalanche of goals.

Even a look at the top scorers chart shows that Chiefs’ Bernard Parker and Moroka Swallows’ Edward Manqele have only scored four goals apiece in six matches for their clubs.

And close to them are foreign marksmen Adam Abdul-Basit of Free State Stars and SuperSport United’s Mame Niang who are on three strikes each.

Our football brains need to seriously attend to this problem of our country’s players’ failure to score goals or our football will continue to suffer.

It must be drummed into our players’ heads from a young age that the main purpose of playing football is getting the damn ball between those sticks; otherwise the whole exercise is futile.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer:
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