It’s the second leg for the Club Caf Tournaments, who will go through?

Congratulations to all our clubs for their encouraging results, there is a sign that these club are taking Caf tournaments quite serious.

Herein are the results for our SA Teams first leg games over the past weekend in the Caf Tournaments:

  1. Mamelodi Sundowns FC 2 and Kampala Capital City Authority FC 1 (Champions League).
  2. Al Ahly FC 1 and Wits University FC 0 (Champions League).
  3.  Al Ahly Shandi FC 3 and Supersport United FC 2 (Confederation Cup).
  4.  Uganda Vipers FC 1 and Platinum Stars FC 0 (Confederation Cup).

Sundowns, the 2016 Caf Champions League Champs, played at home and their local counterparts- Wits, Supersport and Platinum Stars battled it out away. Given that all these teams will be playing their second leg games and on the quality of the opposition and hostility of the away supporters Wits results were satisfactorily. What makes Wits also commendable, they played their best team, showing how serious are they this time around.

There are reasons why these results are worrying, namely;

  • The away goal which Sundowns opponents Kampala Capital City Authority scored, meaning that Kampala need to beat Sundowns 1-0 in Uganda and they will go through.
  • 2 of the 3 teams who played away, Wits and Platinum Stars never scored a goal,
  • Supersport played, not their best team. Is Coach Baxter reserving players for the Nedbank, not taking Caf tournament serious?

What is encouraging about the past results are the following:

  •  Supersport United scored 2 goals away, needs just 1 goal to score and are capable of doing that.
  •  Sundowns are capable of scoring away.
  •  Wits can score 2 goals at home.
  •  Platinum Stars can score 2 goals at home.

Let us wait for the second leg which are this weekend namely:

  • 18 March KCCA FC vs Mamelodi Sundowns FC 16:00 in Kampala Uganda.
  • 18 March Supersport United FC v Al Ahli Shendi FC 18:00 Pretoria South Africa.
  • 18 March Platinum Stars FC v Vipers FC 20:00 Rustenburg South Africa.
  • 19 March Wits University FC v Al Ahly FC 15:30 Johannesburg South Africa.

This is one of the much anticipated results in our country, I wish all these clubs go through, as this will be great for country and region, Sadec.

The other question is, with the recent election of Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar as the Caf President, whose country is the part the Sadec Region, will this spur all these and other regional clubs including countries in the region to start to dominate African football?

Are South African Clubs now taking Caf Clubs Confederations Tournaments serious?

Are South African Clubs now taking Caf Clubs Confederations Tournaments serious?
Well, if the recent comments by the different participating teams is anything to go by, then at long last the country is surely becoming part of international (African) community. Wits, SuperSport United and Platinum Stars are looking to draw inspiration from the achievements of Caf African champions league champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, as they continue with their campaigns this weekend.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt who has succeeded locally but has been viewed as having a lukewarm attitude towards Caf competitions has allayed these fears by promising to target Group stages of the Champions League. The Students are scheduled to play Al Ahly in a CAF Champions League first round, first-leg tie at the Al-Salman Stadium on Saturday evening and Supersport United play Al-Ahly Shendi in Sudan on Sunday.

Meanwhile, defending champions Sundowns remain focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.
Sundowns became the second South African club to win both the Champions League and Super Cup after Orlando Pirates won the Champions League in 1995 and the Super Cup in 1996. Be reminded that although Kaizer Chiefs lost the Super Cup in 199 after they won the Confederation Cup (by then called-Mandela Cup in 2001), this shows that the South African big three clubs no minnows when it comes to Caf tournaments. In the last decade Orlando Pirates have been the only club which has participated with seriousness hence they played and lost in the finals of the Champions League and Confederation Cup in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Who will win it this time, and how will the South African teams fare?
Unlike, some of their neighbors, or part of the whole of Africa, South African Premiership League clubs come from one of the richest leagues in the world, it is quoted as being the 7th richest leagues in the world. They really need to set the precedent when it comes to these continental competitions. The difference between South Africa and most African leagues is not only of professionalism, but also salaries paid to players. South African league is popular, and even capable of generating lot more money.

Sundowns are again well placed for African success, the first by virtue of their experience and the knowledge and expertise of their coach Pitso Mosimane and his technical staff, second because of their wealth brought in by their President Patrice Motsepe hence have ability to buy top players and the current bench of unquestioned Champions League pedigree.

The success of Mamelodi Sundowns in Champions League, Super Cup and the experience in the Club World Cup in Japan has had an unbelievable influence not only to the Sundowns club and particularly players judging by their thereafter performance but this success and experience also has had an impact on all the other top clubs like Kaizer Chiefs and Wits who had in the past not shown that seriousness on Caf tournaments. At the announcement of the Kaizer Chiefs-Toyota car sponsorship announcement, Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung, promised Toyota South Africa CEO Andrew Kirby that he will see him in Japan as Chiefs will qualify through winning Champions League for the Toyota FIFA Club World Cup. This is the best message from Kaizer Chiefs, well done Mr. Motaung!!
I spoke to Wits University CEO Jose Ferreira about their preparedness to compete and make an impact in the Champions League, he assured me they are serious and judging by the players they have one believes them and their Coach Gavin Hunt publicly said he is eyeing the Group stages. What a commitment from both these top clubs.

The other big club Supersport United commitment has never been questionable as they have always taken African football very seriously given their holding company Supersport’s very big direct investment to Africa and their Chairman Khulu Sibiya comments.
Mamelodi Sundown boss Patrice Motsepe and Orlando Pirates boss Irvin Khoza political will to Africa sets them apart and are unquestionable to their seriousness to South African government agenda to Africa.

The other participating team in 2017 is Platinum Stars, although their principals are very rich, they are still the so called small club because they also still play small, by releasing their best and experienced player focusing on youth to compete at this big level. Judging by comments of Platinum Coach Cavin Johnson and CEO Senzo Mazingisa they are serious about their participation in the Confederation Cup.

After all is said and done, out of the four teams participating this weekend only Sundowns knows and is really ready for the Caf tournament given their experience and organization, these other clubs will be found out as they play starting this weekend.

Tribute to the Late Goodenough Ace Nkomo

Football, diski…whatever you call it, the “beautiful game” was once South African obsession, both at amateur and professional level. Football rivalry in Soweto where Goodenough Ace Nkomo and I come from was a daily thing. He came from township, Tshiawelo which was mainly dominated by Tsonga speaking people, on the other hand I hailed from a Nguni township, Senaoane. Putting blacks according to their tribes was plan of the apartheid government of dividing us and people fought against it and broke it.

During those times in the late 70’s and early 80’s Nkomo’s club Northen Brothers after he earlier played for Tshiawelo Bush Bucks. Brothers was a big club with bigger and older players, it enjoyed a successful run and has its own devoted fans. Just across Potchefstroom Road, Senaoane, a place also where the citizens eat, sleep, and breathe football- the township is home to Senaoane Gunners. It was not uncommon to hear the game against Northern Brothers referred to as a “blood rivalry.” Come game day, thousands of people pack the grounds to chant Gunners slogan “Wadl’ i Varara Wadl’ i Cala”. The rivalries between township boys was beyond the football one, in such a way that each township boy would not easily enter into another township without a fight ensuing. Remember a boy would enter another township either because of sport, friendship or for at most times for a girl.

Gunners was the talk of the town also admired because of its blend of football and its introduction of youngsters who were largely smaller to the game when the game at that time was dominated by bigger and older players. Nkomo graduated to be a professional player and plied his trade at Pretoria Callies. He was later recruited to Highlands Park by the legendary Coach Joe Frickleton. He then made a huge move to the Phefeni Glamour boys, Kaizer Chiefs. Later together with another Kaizer Chiefs FC star Abednigo “Valdez is Coming” Ngcobo went to ply their trade in Uruguay( South America) for Penarol where Nkomo was even more successful. It was when he was playing for Kaizer Chiefs and when back from Uruguay when he came to coach Senaoane Gunners.

In Tshiawelo, Nkomo was seen by some as a traitor but others admired him for moving to Gunners, also in Senaoane to some he was not trusted because people thought he had ulterior motives but many admired him for breaking this tribal divide and also ploughing back. I had befriended myself to him wanting him to teach Gunners players how professional football players behave and play. What a choice, the best the club could have chosen after I asked him to come to Gunners during his spare time. Nkomo became a friend, brother, coach and mentor to all. I can categorically say Nkomo fought tribalism and stood for social cohesion.

Nkomo taught Gunners amateur players particularly myself how to behave and play like professionals. As it is raining a lot these days, Ace taught us that training is never cancelled at your place but at the training ground. One of the days it was pouring and in my street there were 4 players Disco, JC, Mainline Thanjekwayo’s and myself were confused whether there will be training or not but we decided to walk to Rockvile Elkah joined by our other Gunners player Carlie Sibiya. On arrival we were surprised and happy that most players like Duma Nkosi, Gilbert Thwala, Joe Moloko, Schola Dube, Victor Thwala, Sbash Nhlapo, Faroh Gamede, Bridge Sodomba(from Tshiawelo)were there as well coming to check whether there will be training, all came jogging. Nkomo our coach arrived jogging like all of us even though he had a car. Yes he had his raining suit on, and we did not have raining suits, remember he could have come by his car but did not. In his address to us, he said never odule ko hae ungwaya sebono uri wabata or pula yana!!. Guess what we trained that day as it was just raining with no thunder.

I hope Clubs or athletes particularly at development level were training for the whole of the week irrespective of the pouring rain particularly as there was no thunder.

By Mike Ntombela – Mike Ntombela Sports Management

Tribute to the Late Goodenough Ace Nkomo