‘I’ve lost friends and missed family anniversaries because of football’ – Pitso Mosimane

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane at his home in Johannesburg. The champion coach speaks about his job, life in football and thoughts about his image dominating memes on Twitter (instert). 

Image: Thulani Mbele

After five seasons with Mamelodi Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane has delivered two PSL titles, four cups and a CAF crown; on course for a 3rd title. Gomolemo Motshwane chats with the coach about life on and off the pitch.

Who would you say is a close friend of yours in football?

Mike Ntombela is close to me.

Which game still haunts, even to this day?

Bafana Bafana versus Sierra Leone at the Mbombela Stadium. [In that tie, SA failed to qualify for the 2012 Afcon after celebrating the draw against Sierra Leone, thinking it was enough to advance].

What time do you sleep and wake up?

I’m unpredictable but I sleep at 2am and up at maybe 7.15am. On one of the other days I try to get more rest.

Do you know that you are the champion of memes on social media?

I don’t even know what a meme is. Really? You say it’s on Twitter? Ok, I will check it [laughs].

Who are the coaches who have taught you the most?

I had Roy Matthews who taught me a lot at Cosmos. Another who opened my eyes was my former Greek coach Nikos Alefantos at Ionikos. He was very intelligent, old fashioned. Carlos Alberto Parreira I must also give credit, he showed me lots of stuff.

Would you ever coach a national team again?

You never know, maybe when I’m older. At the moment I am happy where I am. The work load can be heavier at a club but sometimes you like the action.

Where is the most hostile place on the continent?

North Africa, you have pitch invasions and they are not friendly. But the one that takes the cake is Lubumbashi, the homeground of TP Mazembe. There is nothing like it.

Tell us about some of the sacrifices you have made in football?

You miss birthday parties of the kids; you miss anniversaries with the wife. I have lost so many good friends. I have lost genuine good people that I can’t even go back to due to commitment. When friends come [and] visit me, I can’t visit back you know.

What would winning your third Premiership title mean to you?

It would mean that the hard work has paid off and we have done our job. Sundowns is a big club, our fans expect titles.

 

Ntombela backs Serero revival

 

Thulani Serero’s mentor Mike Ntombela believes the forgotten Bafana Bafana midfielder will revive his career following his move to Vitesse Arnhem from Ajax Amsterdam.

Serero has not played first-team football this year after being demoted to play for Ajax’s feeder team in Netherlands’ second tier league.

In an era where South African players choose to settle for the comforts of returning home after struggling abroad, the 27-year-old Serero has stuck it out in Europe, where he is now heading into his seventh season.

“He [Serero] is adamant and still wants to play there [in Europe] because he still believes [in himself],” Ntombela tells KickOff.com.

 

 

“He hasn’t played [first-team] football for about six months which is not good for any player so he needed the change. Now he has gone to a team that is not of a similar profile as Ajax which I think is the right place for him to start off again and prove himself.

“He needs to obviously come back into the [South Africa] national team but that will come with playing at his club [Vitesse]. What I like is that he has the right attitude about the game, I think he is going to succeed,” says Ntombela.

Serero went under the guidance of Ntombela in his young years at Senaoane Gunners back home in his hometown of Soweto before leaving for Ajax Cape Town in his mid-teens.

The plus for Serero is that Vitesse are playing in the UEFA Europa League this season.

OUR FOOTBALL NEEDS A SERIOUS INTERVENTION

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

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.

PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza and Sundowns President Patrice Motsepe

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.

 

AT LONG LAST THE “CLEVER BOYS” HAVE WON THE LEAGUE

The Clever Boys is Bidvest Wits University FC nickname which was coined by few Wits ground and manual workers who followed the team they worked for led by our Groundsman Bro Sam Ndlovu. They increased as they were followed by reserve team players, parents and families of kids who played in the junior and Reserve teams of Wits during the early 80’s

I joined Wits University Reserves in March 1981 by then a predominantly white team and was promoted in June to the senior team, which had only Mike Mangena as the black player. Mangena had joined Wits in 1980 and found Zeph Mthembu who later left at end of 1980, hence on my arrival it was Mangena who was the only black player in the team. We were joined in 1983 by Leornard “Wagga Wagga” Likoebe; we were known as the 3 musketeers or the “kitchen boys” who sold out and played for white people instead of playing for black teams, but to some we were the pioneers of social cohesion against a bad system of apartheid proving that blacks were competing with whites and being in the starting line ups and winning not just games but also trophies for our team Wits University.

This period was the tenure of Raymond Hack and Prof Ronnie Schloss as Chairman and President respectively. Schloss and Hack convinced me to train with Wits after Mangena advised them that I was a good player. I then obliged and trained with Wits and I was signed immediately. During this tenure 1981-1985 when I played for Wits and the Coaches like Mike Kenning, Julie Kaplan helped by Martin Cohen, then kenning again on his second stint.

During this time there, white legends like Rod Anley, Brian Pomroy, Richard Kellet, Cliffie Crouch, Dave Jacobs, Tony Jacobsen, Andy Stanton, Mark Moca, Dickie McMillan, Dave Waterson, Jimmy Cook, John Ellse, Steve Haupt, Trevor Tennent ( the longest serving captain) the European exports Miljia Aleksis, Steve Smith, Frank McGrelis, Andy Geddis and last but not least who can forget the best of them all the legends at Wits, Rodney” The Bush Buck”Bush.

In that mix there we younger talented players who played in the Reserves like Martin Glauber, Erick Koseff, Howard Koseff, Zoran Illic, Craig Nathan, Scot Simpson, Hugo Melandowitz, Nelson Castro, John Comittis, Ivan Speechly, Errol Mann, Gary Soresman, Pino Ancorola, and a lot others. This group mainly came from the University football program spearheaded by astute Jimmy Backos and Derek Blackensee. With these players and strong administration, the team was ready to compete and win trophies.

Although we lost 2-1 against Kaizer Chiefs in the final of Datsun in 1983, where Mangena scored a 40 yards scorcher, we won the BP Top 8 in 1984 and 1985 JPS Final, where I scored the winner and voted Man of the Match. However, we never won the League, the nearest we came to was coming second in 1982 and 1985. Mangena left end of 1984 for a Wits transfer record R25 000 to Bush Bucks and I left When I left I end of 1985 for record transfer R33 000 to Mamelodi Sundowns and Wagga was released end of 1985.

Whenever I was at Sundowns I would want beat my former team to show that I have improved. After I left Wits, I continued to follow them to the extent that if Sundowns does not win any trophy, that trophy would have rather be won by Wits, including the League. As a player I won the League twice 1988 and 1990 with Sundowns as a player, once in 1993 as part of the technical stuff and recently won it twice in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 still on the technical department but always wished Wits should win the League.

After I left, new coaches like Joe Frickleton, Eddie Lewis coming for his second stint, John Latham, Boebie Solomons, Roger De SA, Eric Tinkler from 1986 thereafter we have seen an array of legends coming in still winning trophies like Ronny Moletsane, Abel Shongwe, Kevin Mudie, Eric Tinkler, Kevin Rafferty, Nicky Shaw, Steve Tlou, Peter Gordon, Bradley Carnell, Warren Du Pont, Steve Barker and Roan Malgue, just to mention a few. But Wits never won the League and going without winning the League until the arrival of the Chairman Brian Joffe who is not only wealthy, but also likes the game and is generous, Jose Ferreira as the CEO , later Jonathan Schloss as COO joining the long serving George Mokgotsi in administration. However, the catalyst was the arrival of Gavin Hunt as a Coach with his great pedigree of having the League with Supersport United 3 times in a row and brought the belief that Bidvest Wits can win the League.

During Hunt’s tenure the team finished 3rd twice, then runner’s up and this Season finally landing the top prize. The team has been signed a lot of good players like Buhle Mkhwanazi, Jabu Shongwe, Diane Klate, Moeneeb Joseph, Mogakolodi Ngele, Cuthbert Malajila, Elias Pelembe, Sifiso Hlanti, Darren Keet, Thabang Monare, Granwald Granwald Scott  and Bongani Khumalo. The  team also promoted players like Phumlani Ntshangase, Ben Motswari, Phakamani Mahlambi and ReeveFrossler just to mention a few.

Never did I ever think that the team could win the League with myself and Prof Schloss making a contribution. Schloss, through his son Jonathan who is now the club’s COO (While I was playing Jonathan used to come and watch as a small 10 year old) and through my “son” Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo, also from Soweto who is not only a key player but also the Captain. I took Hlatshwayo under my wing and mentored him from when he was 15 years old until now. I watched Wits v Chiefs on the last game of the Season, although Wits lost the game, but they received the trophy in front of the Kaizer Chiefs and their supporters which had increased from those who used to watch us but are still predominantly black which and Wits players are now predominantly black than when I played Wits. Well done “Clever boys”.

Well done the “Clever Boys”

Tribute to Stanley “Screamer/ Nigger” Tshabalala

I was fortunate enough to witness former legendary Mamelodi Sundowns coach Stanley “ Screamer” Tshabalala mesmerising the crowds with his amazing football skills, standing on top of the ball and screaming. His great footwork were no doubt an asset for his teams, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

People who followed him through his career, mentioned that Orlando Preston Brothers  and in Alexandra for Fighters FC, fans always keenly waited for Tshabalala to turn on the style, skill and of screaming during the game, hence the nickname Screamer. I also saw him playing at Kaizer XI later  Kaizer Chiefs in the late 70’s.

He later coached Jomo Cosmos and Giant Blackpool in the mid 80’s.  I had never thought I could end up being closer to him, walk side by side with him as he honed his coaching career all the later  years, particularly at Mamelodi Sundowns in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Recently had lunch with him at the Killarney Mall as we went down the memory lane, we mainly focused on the football in the past, we also touched little things like the yellow Peugeot 404 he used to drive, Colt Gallant 2600 I drove, the Book Shop and Swarma Shop we used to visit in Hillbrow.

Also our physical training at Zuurbekom and Orlando Stadium. Those were the good old days. Hillbrow became a popular winding down place for dedicated footballers where they bought overseas football magazines and newspapers or watching games at the hotel, in a effort to sharpen their skills. Footballers were hungry for knowledge, to improve their understanding of the game and took fitness very seriously.

Screamer influenced a lot of us to visit these areas during our off days hence myself, Pitso Mosimane, Harold Jazzy Queen Legodi, Ace Khuse, Rabbi Moripe just to mention a few frequented these places.

I remember vividly how I met this football legend together with the late Coloured Passmore in December 1985, at corner Harrison and Bree in Johannesburg who  later lured me to join big spender, Mamelodi Sundowns which was owned by a Soweto tycoon, Zola Mahobe.

The Johannesburg city center was the place where most people met particularly around lunch time.

Tshabalala and Passmore were there to convey a message from Mahobe who was affectionately known as “Ophethe insimbi” meaning,  one who is financially loaded.

They told me Mahobe would like to sign me and will ‘look after me”. During that time I was playing for Wits University, a predominantly white club in those days and contemplating to move to a predominantly black club. I knew Tshabalala had recommended me to Mahobe, even Passmore was advising me to go to Sundowns. It was not surprising a coach and owner of Giant Blackpool  to advise me to go to another club  other than his, as I had known them closely from the early 80’s, they were bigger brothers who cared about me more than themselves.

Although it would be Jabu “Nyambose”Mthethwa , a Senaoane friend and businessman who would pick me up (in Tshiawelo at our vegetable business station with my partner and friend Sam Muofhe) to a meeting with Mahobe along the way Mthethwa persuaded me to join Sundowns, Tshabalala technically advised  me to go to Sundowns. Tshabalala’s nickname was “Nigger”was becoming more common even though I had heard it earlier at Passmore’s spray painting shop in Dobsonville  with abo Keke, Kufu, Tshatsha, Maraba, Les, Jeff Maswekameng, Bra Za, Bra Titos, Bra Mbuzana to mention a few. Nigger was a popular nickname used by black players who had a stint in the US. The likes of Jomo Sono, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Webster Lichabe, Kenneth “ The Horse” Mokgojoa,  Andries “Six Mabone” Maseko, Johannes Yster Khomane, Martin Cohen, Rodney Bush, including Tshabalala were amongst players who plied their trades in the US.

I still call him Bra Nigger in remembrance of our meeting with Passmore and other Bra’s as they were older the me, hence i had to call them Bra. Yes there were his lieutenants at Sundowns like Trott Moloto and Spear Makhoba and a lot in Orlando east, west and extension guys including those in Pretoria  including Sono who still call him “Nigger”.

In 1984 Bra Big Joe Matimba and Bra Fish Kekana(both late, may their souls rest in peace) visited my family to try and lure me to Sundowns at the time when Sundowns did not have money. They arrived at home when there was a church service conducted by Reverend “12/ 12” who got this name that the church finishes at 12 minutes after midnight. I walked out bare feet, it is AmaZion culture to take off shoes whenever you enter the church. It was quite awkward but we quickly agreed that I would come to their game on Sunday as Wits was playing on Saturday. I did honour the appointment with my friend Sam Muofhe and we were well looked after. Bra Joe and Bra Fish did play a role but It was in 1985 after meeting Tshabalala’s that I took his advice to join Sundowns.

In January 1986, I arrived at Sundowns with my friends and other very good players like  Samuel “Ewe” Khambule, Mark  Anderson, Pitso Mosimane, Mike Mangena, William Zondi,  just to mention a few. The coach was Ben Segale and Tshabalala was still at Giant Blackpool. There was a lot of good players at Sundowns like Walter Kutumela, Go Mabusela, Bashin Mahlangu, Basil Steenkamp and many more. Around end of April, the coach was changed and Tshabalala was brought in as the replacement. That was the beginning of the resurgence of Sundowns

Although there were times that Tshabalala and I never saw things the same way when he arrived but we built a stronger bond later on, between 1986-1991 at Sundowns until now. Hence I can categorically say that the seven titles which Sundowns won during these years, was because of Tshabalala’s influence, yes he left towards end of 1988 and was back in 1990.

Let me talk about what Tshabalala brought to Sundowns namely a playing style commonly known as “Piano and Shoeshine”.  I would do an injustice as what Shoeshine and Piano is because the best person to do that is Tshabalala himself, in brief, Shoeshine and Piano is the type and style of beautiful football starting from the back through the midfield to the strikers.

It came after sportswear brand Kappa, the  then technical sponsor of both Chiefs and Sundowns. Kappa was owned  by the Casaletti family of Rob, Emmy and Vivian, took Screamer to Italy and visited AC Milan and Juventus.

Upon returning from that trip Tshabalala brought the type of football enjoyed by all people, it was unbelievable and the results were there, even beat with style the then giants of SA football; Pirates, Chiefs and Swallows. This style attracted a lot of supporters from all over but more in Mamelodi where it brought a lot of excitement and happiness.  Mahobe a boy from Soweto, wanted to make Sundowns not only a Mamelodi team but also the top team competing with South African giants and also when the Krok brothers( Abe and Solly) and Patrice Motsepe came, they further confirmed with action and resources that Sundowns becomes  a successful and plays beautiful football.

I hope one day Tshabalala and Mahobe like what the Krok brothers, Tsiclas famiy, Mosimane and Motsepe have done for Sundowns will be honoured and given the freedom of the township of Mamelodi for what they contributed to this glorious club and its community.

Tshabalala is now the Technical Director of Orlando Pirates FC.   

Mike Ntombela former wits and Sundowns player owns Mike Ntombela Sports Management and he writes in his personal capacity  www.mikentombelasports.co.za

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

www.mikentombelasports.co.za

Tribute to the Late Goodenough Ace Nkomo