Radical transformation of football should be the number one goal in the list of the sporting priorities. A synchronised programme that will include all football structures is an inevitability. The PSL and SAFA need to come together and draw one program to create synergy in our professional and country football.
Although the Nedbank Final will be played on the 24th June between Orlando Pirates and Supersport United, our 2017/2018 Absa Premiership League has just finished with Bidvest Wits University, Mamelodi Sundowns and Cape Town City coming first, second and third respectively. This means Wits and Sundowns will play in the 2018 Caf Champions League and Cape Town City will play in the Caf Confederation Cup and will be joined by either Orlando Pirates or Supersport United. In 2018 we will have 4 teams participating in the Caf Confederation Cup again, which is great news for our country.
Remember we have three teams participating in the group stages in both CAF tournaments from 13 May until 7 July 2017. Sundowns is in Champions League and Platinum Stars and Supersport United in the Confederation Cup, with our 2017/2018 Season starting probably on August 4. Their successful campaigns will definitely put the country on the continent’s map. However, the downside of taking part in the competition for South African teams is that they will be no rest for them, the worst hit will be Sundowns, in February 2018 they will not have had a rest or off-season for the third year in a row. Orlando Pirates this year came 11th, the probable reason being that because they played two seasons without rest after participating in the CAF tournaments from 2013-2015, they are still feeling the pinch of not having a rest.
There is one question South Africans must ask themselves, namely:
Is this success very good for our clubs and country?
Orlando Pirates won the Champions League in 1995, and lost in the finals of Champions League in 2013, and also lost in the finals of the Confederation Cup In 2015, they made SA to have two clubs in the Champions League. Sundowns’ success in the Champions League also permitted us to have the second club in the CAF Confederation Cup, which is huge from the football side.
Orlando Pirates losing the 2013 finals of Champions League
The success of Mamelodi Sundowns winning the Champions League in 2016 and playing in the Club World Cup in 2016 further brought huge strides in our football. What added more to it was them winning the 2016 Super Cup against the 2016 Confederation Cup winners TP Mazembe in South Africa. Super Cup is the competition between CAF Champions League winners against the Caf Confederation Cup winners.
Mamelodi Sundowns winning the Champions League in 2016 at Egypt
On arrival from Egypt with the trophy Sundowns had a rousing welcome by all with the then Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula and football officials, including the PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza and Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe. Furthermore the players were paid by both Mbalula and club through Motsepe, which was great. However, the clubs were never asked what other support do they need? The biggest thing what the teams needs is logistical support as they participate in these tournaments and rest.
Then Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula and football officials, including the PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza and Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe welcoming Sundowns.
Out of the four South African clubs that qualified for 2017 Caf Tournaments only Wits University has not qualified to the Group Stages. The question asked are Wits happy or not happy that they are not in the Group stages? Most say Wits are more happy because there are more frustration for those clubs which have qualified like no off season, not time with their families which is more important.
Our football is improving but needs strong leadership from all stakeholders mainly SAFA (PSL), Government (SRSA/Dirco), Business and Coaches. The two vigilant observers’ media and supporters must not be taken lightly as they need to support whatever decision is taken.
Listening to the complains about tiredness by all three Coaches, Pitso Mosimane, Stuart Baxter and Kevin Johnson, of the clubs still involved in CAF tournaments, Sundowns, Supersport and Plat Stars. I think it is about time all major stakeholders set down and discussed whether we play Jan- December or August- May, Sports and Recreation Minister Nxesi, please help.