Thursday, 28 November 2013

My email from FIFA after Spain debacle. Still can't quite work out how South Africa are STILL ranked 61 in the world

World beaters: Bafana celebrate Parker's goal against Spain


Dear Neal Collins,

Regarding your earlier enquiry, we can update you with the following information:

FIFA can confirm that the South Africa-Spain friendly match of 19 November remains an ‘A’ international, despite the fact that Spain allegedly used more than the maximum of six substitutes that the Laws of the Game stipulate can be used for such a match.


FIFA have taken into account that both teams had agreed on the conditions of the match and submitted the necessary documentation prior to the match in order for FIFA to confirm it as an ‘A’ international.


In this context, South Africa shall not suffer any negative consequences on its part for adhering to the agreed conditions and only using up to a maximum of six substitutes during the match.


The match shall be considered as an official match and is therefore included in the November edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

Regarding the alleged incident of Spain using more than the maximum of six substitutes, FIFA is currently analysing the information at our disposal to assess possible next steps.


If you wish to quote FIFA, please simply quote the FIFA Media Department or a FIFA spokesperson.

Kind regards,  

 ***** 
Communications & Public Affairs
FIFA – Fédération Internationale de Football Association 
www.FIFA.com  


 -----Original Message-----
From: feedback@fifa.com; on behalf of nealcollins@hotmail.com; [mailto:feedback@fifa.com] 
Sent: Donnerstag, 28. November 2013 07:58
To: Contact (FIFA) 

Subject: Latest FIFA rankings 

 Name: Neal Collins
Email: 
nealcollins@hotmail.com

I'm a football presenter in South Africa, eagerly awaiting our new ranking after 1-0 win over Spain... can you call me on +27 791953899 and tell me when rankings will drop or give me a hint about Bafana's new position?!

Neal Collins
www.nealcollins.co.za

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Morgan Gould on THAT punch, THAT ban... and words of comfort from Gavin Hunt

Big hit: Gould hits Kebede on Nov 9

GOULDEN GLOVES. Tap-tap Morgantini. Floygan Gouldweather. Yup. It’s been tough time for Morgan Gould, ever since the Kaizer Chiefs centre-back landed what appeared to be a punch right on the chin of Bidvest Wits’ Getaneh Kebede.

It all came to a head yesterday when a hastily-convened PSL Disciplinary Committee handed down a two-match ban and R100,000 fine for Gould’s apparent left hook during the AmaKhosi’s hardfought 2-1 win against the Clever Boys on November 9 at Soccer City.

Immediately the social networks were abuzz. Given that Mabhuti Khenyeza was sentenced to a YEAR out of the game for spitting at a linesman, the general consensus (though not unanimous) was that Gould had got off lightly.

He hasn’t. The 30-year-old from Soweto is hurting. Video of the incident has taken more than 500,000 YouTube hits from all around the world. “That’s dirty man” are the three words from the commentary (see video below) that will live with him for the rest of his career.

Tomorrow he will appear on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za to explain all. Earlier today he told me: “It’s been an awful time. A bad month. Very difficult. I just want to put all this behind me.

“When I went before the PSL Disciplinary, I knew I couldn’t plead not guilty. I said after the incident it was a “freak accident” but I know if I’d been punched like that, I would have been really angry. I would have looked at it afterwards and said it was a deliberate punch.

“I looked at the replays and I decided I had to plead guilty. Hold my hands up. That’s what I did. I apologised to Kebede and I’m sorry for what I did. It was not intentional but somehow I did it. It’s there, you can see it.

“I accept the two-match ban (Gould misses tonight’s clash against resurgent Polokwane City and Saturday at Free State Stars) and I will pay the R50,000 fine (the other half was suspended), I have to do that.

“I didn’t want to plead not guilty. That would have weighed heavily on me. I had to say I’d done it; for the sake of my family and my friends, people who believe in me. I want to get on with it, get over this.”

Gould is a strong bloke, an imposing figure who has twice come back from serious injury since his move to Chiefs two seasons ago. But he is also one of the good guys. Gavin Hunt, his coach for four years at SuperSport United and now in charge at Wits, knows that only too well.

Hunt told me: “Look, it was a punch. No doubt about that. But I don’t believe it was pre-meditated. Hands fly. Things happen. You know football, Neal.

“I’ve known Morgan for years. I like to think I played an important part in his career. My guy Kebede is over it. An apology has been made, now there’ll be a written apology.

“My problem is with the officiating. The referee was RIGHT THERE. He saw what happened. It should have been dealt with at the time. A red card on the spot and the normal two-match ban would have been right.

“Then we would have had none of this, no need for a review and a hearing. But we’re over it. I wish the lad well. He’s not a bad lad. I know that.

“He’ll get over this. He’ll recover. I’m just annoyed we didn’t take a point of Chiefs that night!”



BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

IT'S BEEN A CRAZY WEEK! Dean Furman on beating Spain for South Africa - and Yeovil for Doncaster. And his first EVER red card!

Iniesta in my pocket: Dean Furman

DEAN FURMAN was in the passport control queue when I got hold of him last week after South Africa’s epic 1-0 win over world champions Spain.

With the new FIFA rankings out on Thursday, 61st-placed Bafana are expected to move up in the world, but for the 25-year-old Cape Town-born midfielder, this was simply: “One of the highlights of my career. A night I’ll never forget.”

Speaking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za, Furman laughed loudly when I suggested he had to allow Barcelona great Andres Iniesta out of his pocket for a second-half substitution.

Furman marshalled the World Cup winning Spaniards with some authority and Iniesta – scorer of the winning goal in the final at Soccer City in 2010 – was unable to repeat his heroics at the same stadium with Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali creating a dynamic midfield trio for the first time.

Though our chat with Furman was rudely interrupted by passport control at Heathrow, his enthusiasm sparkled down the long-distance line.

With Furman and Bongani Khumalo playing for Doncaster Rovers and striker Tokelo Rantie now at Bournemouth, South Africa’s epic victory sparked interested in England too with Furman admitting: “Everone is talking about Bafana now. I’m still scratching my head about how we actually did it but in all honesty we played very well on the night.

“We had a game plan, we sat back and let the Spanish have it in their own half and when they came into ours, we pressed them, tried to catch them on the counter. We’ve got some great players going forward, with real pace.

“We knew that would cause them some problems on the night.

“Up against Alonso, Iniesta, Busquets, then Mata and Cazorla, it didn’t get an easier the whole night but it was a great spectacle, great to come up with a win.

“Against players like that you have to raise your game. Their movement off the ball is spectacular, they’re so clever. Communicating with each other was vital.

“It was unbelievable. For a very proud nation, there have been some disappointments, going out on penalties in the AFCON, not qualifying for the World Cup.

“This was a victory for the fans, the nation. The supporters were all coming up to thank us. It was a great moment for everyone. We can really build from here.”

Furman, who scored before being sent off in his first game back with Doncaster against Yeovil last Friday, grinned: “It’s been a crazy week Neal, great to get a goal and three points but gutted to get my first red!”


BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Two finals, one trophy. And it isn't even December yet. The delightfully cool Allan Freese on Platinum Stars, giant-killing and contract-signing

Slayer-in-Chief: Allan Freese
THERE is a delightful coolness to Allan Earl Freese as his Platinum Stars ice-berg continues to sink the Titanic giants of South African football.

Super-cool. Distinctly unfashionable. No contract. Sharp as a razor. The ultimate Caretaker Manager. Everyone thought last year’s PSL runners-up were in for a Phokeng struggle this season after Cavin Johnson decamped for SuperSport United.

Instead, Freese stepped up from assistant boss to guide his side past Orlando Pirates to the MTN8 trophy before, on Saturday night, he engineered a shock 1-0 defeat of double-winning Kaizer Chiefs to take his side to an unprecedented second cup final in his first season in charge.

Now 57, Freese had his moments as a player. I watched the AmaKhosi beaten with SABC analyst Desh Bhaktawer on Saturday night. The former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper explained: “Freesy was a fair player. I remember in the old days at Arcadia Shepherds, Stan Lapot rated him as one of the top left backs in the country.”

The Rock: Allan's brother
Howard captained Chiefs
Driving happily down the highway of unexpected success on the North West’s N4 on Sunday, Freese laughs at the memory. “Yes, I got the SMS from Deshi after the game. Those were good days! But this season I’m having fun. My brother Howard (“The Rock” captained Kaizer Chiefs, Allan went to Orlando Pirates) just called me. He said: ‘It wasn’t Kaizer Chiefs playing badly, it was Platinum Stars playing well. That was the difference.’ And I think he’s right.

“I have got a bunch of guys who play for each other at Stars, not individuals. Everyone can surprise me, not just Robert N’gambi (their Malawian top scorer) – how about Thabiso Semenya popping up with his first goal?

“We’re playing good football. People seem to forget that, they concentrate on how badly the other side are playing. But we beat Gavin Hunt’s Bidvest Wits home and away in the MTN8 semi-finals, we won the final on penalties against a Pirates side doing well in Africa… and we beat champions Chiefs fair and square.”

Despite breaking a seven-year trophy drought and keeping his side in the running for the PSL title while reaching the Telkom KO final at Mbombela on December 7, Freese remains on the assistant coach’s contract he signed two seasons at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

With Orlando Pirates looming in a repeat of the MTN8 final, he laughs: “I’ve been in to see the chairman a few times, we’ve talked about a new contract, but I’m doing okay without one. You know how football is. I got a pay rise, so did my assistant Willem Jackson.

“If you think I deserve better, you’ll have to say that. I couldn’t possibly comment!”

So I will. Dikwena football manager Senzo Mazingisa says the creeping crocodiles, funded by BaPhokeng King Leruo’s platinum profits, won’t offer Freese a contract until May.

That’s fine. By that time, Freese will have quite a CV I suspect. And other clubs will be looking. How do you  reward a man who has already picked up a trophy and reached two cup finals before December?

By offering him a much BETTER deal than the one he would have signed five months ago as the quiet understudy assuming control. There’s an icy sense of justice in that for Mr Freeze.


BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.



Friday, 22 November 2013

SuperSport United boss Cavin Johnson on Pirates, Pule and the problems that beset South African football

LOST DECADE: Jabu Pule in action for Chiefs, 2003

CAVIN JOHNSON insists his SuperSport United troops can upset Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knock-out semi-final today.

SuperSport United coach Johnson, talking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za, said: “ I think we can take them. We have to give them respect, you can call them the Southern African champions right now after what they did in the African Champions League.

“We lost to them in the MTN8 on penalties, we allowed them back in to the game after going 1-0 up. But my players knew they were in with a chance.

“Pirates have gone and played a lot in Africa but I think we have a chance, we’re at home. The one thing I’ve taken notice of is how well Pirates played in the Champions League but the local game is a much faster game.

“We’ve prepared ourselves way, analysed their weaker points, we are ready. We’ve done everything we can.

“Chiefs or my old clubs Platinum Stars in the final? It really doesn’t matter!”

Johnson (see video below) also touched on the return of Jabu Pule to football – he is training with the SuperSport squad but at 33, can he make a footballing comeback after three years in retirement?

Johnson said: “Jabu is involved as an ex-player, trying to change the mentality of the people in Atteridgeville. We want to take the neighbourhood and make it ours. Draw the fans.

“But at the moment Jabu is training with us to get fit. It’s my own personal thing: everybody deserves a second chance.

“For what he’s done, I’ve known him for a while, going on television talking about drugs, drink, women – for me that’s a good sign. But if he gets a relapse he’s really in the kak.

“We use him as an amabassador for the club at the moment but Neal, he still has talent hey. He’s like Maradona, Gascoigne.”




Johnson was singularly unimpressed by Gordon Igesund’s latest international success, insisting:
“The 1-0 Bafana win over Spain did not excite me. I was at Soccer City on Tuesday. It does nothing for me, it does nothing for the country.

“I’m happy we beat the world champions but we needed to qualify for the World Cup. Spain didn’t come out of the starting blocks. And I don’t think Spain will go well in Brazil either, look at the Germans, Dutch, South Americans, they’re all flying.

“And yes, Khune did play well against Spain but with all respect, yah, wrong time. How about when we were playing the bloody Ethiopians. What mentality did we have. Walk in the park? You know what I’m saying?

“This is a South African problem. We have all the facilities, the best league in Africa, but we have a low grade mentality. It’s going to take a lot more than just natural footballers to fix that up. It’s going to take a generation of intelligent mothers and fathers to get it right.

“Now when I sign a player, I tell them I want to see their parents, the brothers and sisters. I want to know what kind of mentality they have, what support system, this is what I’m going to do with ALL the players I sign from now on.

“I want to see who they’re messing around with, whether they have played in the PSL for 20 years or are just coming up.

“With all respect, we have to lose now in order to win later. I cannot run players for two seasons, and then kick him out. That’s not fair.

“We have to change the culture of South African football.  I can get foreigners to kick the hell out of everyone, some gorillas to boot the opposition. Look at them, they earn a lot of money in this country. That’s easy.

“I’ll give you an example. When I was at Platinum Stars and we played in Bloemfontein or Durban, their families would be waiting by the bus with their hands out. Not to greet them, but to say “put the money in my hand”.

“That for me is frightening. I’m preparing the boys for football but they’re scared of having to hand out their money to their parents. They don’t even give moral support to these boys, they say they have no bread at home, no money at home.

“They say “give us the money now” they don’t care about football. We need people to understand that. The generation coming up have to master that like the Brazilians. They have worse problems than we do.”



“It happens to every country. Took them 25 years to win a World Cup but there is a slump immediately afterwards, there’s nothing they can do about that. It’s the beauty of football.

“Look at Germany now. They were ordinary 10-15 years ago, now look at the pace they play at. The Spanish game is going down.”




 BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.



Thursday, 21 November 2013

EXCLUSIVE: SAFA PRESIDENT DANNY JORDAAN: Bafana will not lose ranking points. I can promise you that

Gord's sake: Igesund's response to Spain's 7th sub

UPDATE: Since this story/video (which attracted worldwide attention), FIFA have issued THIS statement: "Fifa can confirm it did not give special dispensation to make up to seven substitutions at the Trinidad & Tobago v England friendly match played on Sunday 1 June 2008.

"The referee of this match confirmed to Fifa that he received no instruction to allow for such a special dispensation, but that it had been a mistake by the referee.

 
"As Fifa has received no official protest regarding this match, it shall be considered as an official match."


SAFA president Danny Jordaan moved swiftly this morning to dispel any doubts about South Africa’s historic win over world champions Spain, insisting: “We will NOT lose rankings points because they used a seventh substitute. I can promise you that.”

Jordaan, talking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on Ballz visual radio (see video below), said: “It is not Spain’s game, it was not authorised by them, it was authorised by FIFA.

“FIFA recognised this match in terms of their statutes, including displaying the World Cup. Was there a violation of FIFA statutes? Absolutely not. The match commissioner’s report and the referee’s report makes that clear.

“The only issue is, did the referee err? Will FIFA be able to reclassify the match based on that error? Look at history, Maradona’s hand against England, the ref ruled it a goal. Did FIFA take the goal away and make it a practice match? NO!

“In Bloemfontein in 2010, when Frank Lampard’s goal clearly went over the line for England against Germany, did FIFA change that decision and reclassify the game? No.

“And when England played Trinidad and Tobago who used seven substitutes, did they change the game to a practice game? No.  It counted for ranking points. Referee’s error.

“Where is that example when, based on a referee’s decision, a match was reclassified? It has never happened.

“It was a wonderful night for South African football. But we are strange in this country, amongst joy we are looking for pain. FIFA have said nothing, the media took this matter wherever they took it. It’s not going to happen.

“The referee was not entitled to allow that decision (allowing Pep Reina to go in goal as Spain’s seventh sub), the match is recognised by FIFA, by SAFA, by CAF. We have not violated any regulations. In fact, Gordon Igesund clearly demonstrated his displeasure at what he saw as Spain’s breach of agreed rules.

“We are clear. We have complied. We beat Spain 1-0. A referee’s error cannot be the basis for reclassifying a match.”

And with South Africa seeking a replacement for Puma as their kit sponsors, Danny grinned: “Of course, this result is absolutely huge. It’s good news. It has already secured meetings and we will start next week the process of speaking to new sponsors.”




 BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.


“ 

Friday, 15 November 2013

Time to support our Bafana Republic. Three against Swaziland is fine. Anything less than a stuffing against Spain will do me

The face of Mr Price: Thabo Nthethe was captain for the
night in Swaziland - and scored his first Bafana goal

Let's get this clear from the start. I have a  problem with pessimists in our Bafana Republic (isn’t that what Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula called us last week?).

Just for starters, how about those twits calling for Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter’s head less than half a season after he became the first foreign coach to win the PSL (and he added the Nedbank Cup double).

They want Baxter out despite making the inspired subsitutions (George Lebese and Lehlohonolo Majoro) to clinch a tricky encounter against Gavin Hunt's Bidvest Wits last week.

And then there are those whinging about Roger De Sa, preferring to focus on Drawlando rather than celebrating the presence of a South African club in the African Champions League final for the first time in a decade. Nonsense. It's not like there are any great contenders to replace the boss at EITHER of the Soweto giants.

And then we come to Bafana. It started within five minutes of the kick-off on the plastic surface of the Somhlolo Stadium on Saturday night.

Our national coach Gordon Igesund was accused of EVERYTHING from a lack of imagination to a one-eyed selection policy. After months of agreeing not to choose pre-occupied Pirates, he filled his squad with Buccaneers and STILL nobody was happy.

It’s madness guys. As Manchester United fans will tell you, keeping faith in a coach is a vital part of any successful football set-up.

I tweeted frantically “keep the faith” though I too was surprised by some of the selections, particularly Thabo Nthethe, playing for leaky Bloemfontein Celtic but made national captain for the night. Apparently it has something to do with his new role as “The Face of Mr Price Sport”.

But after a dreadful first half, Bafana changed things. Igesund said afterwards: “We wanted to start strongly but they parked the bus, put a lot of players behind the ball. We had a chat at half-time about how to get behind them, it worked.”

It sure did. Two goals in as many minutes from Reneilwe “YeahYeah” Letsholonyane and young Bongani Zungu were followed by a well-struck goal from Nthethe himself, his first in national colours.

Could we have asked for anything more? Gordon admitted: “We did want to go for a 4th, 5th and 6th but overall I’m happy with the way we played. We pushed it about, we kept the ball.”

A bit of loyalty, a bit of belief wouldn’t go astray when it comes to Igesund, who capped his 90th player in just over a year on Friday night as he shuffled the pack for the home-based CHAN tournament early next year.

And of course it’s all change at Soccer City on Tuesday night when World and European champions Spain return to the site of their 2010 World Cup triumph.

Gordon points out: “I’ve got the overseas contingent coming to join us, there will be changes. But I may bring in another one of those who played tonight. I’m worried about Thabo Matlaba's injury. I’ve got two left-backs out now, with Tsepo Masilela – but Nthethe can play there too.”

Swaziland, ranked 183 in the world, may prove a tad less tough than Spaniards, ranked at No1 since 2008. But Gordon remains hopeful. Just wish the rest of our football-speaking nation would join him. Anything less than a stuffing would be okay by me.


BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Two good reasons to celebrate Orlando Pirates unexpected progress to the African Champions League final: two clubs, no lasers

Under the spotlight: Senzo Meyiwa is lit up by laser
beams wielded by unruly Al Ahly fans in Cairo


IT took one interview and a quick phone call to finally bring the footballing authorities to THIS startling revelation: Green laser beams are BAD for the African Champions League.

South African viewers on SABC and SuperSport were infuriated during Orlando Pirates 2-0 defeat against mighty Egyptians Al Ahly on Sunday night in Cairo with their players constantly picked out by the annoying green lights.

Annoying? According to the experts (including the Royal Institute for the Blind), the hand-held lasers – smaller than a torch, about the size of a pen – can DAMAGE the sight of footballers targeted by unruly fans.

I made my debut on South Africa’s 24-hour news channel ANN7 today (see video below) and chatted to Peter van Onselen on his brand new lunch-time news show Express Lunch, making the point that lasers are BANNED in European sports stadiums (and in the US and Australia, though apparently it’s still a problem in Latin America).

Following a spate of idiots shining lasers in the eyes of airline pilots at major airports, injudicious use of the “laser lights” – originally developed to assist army snipers and marketed as a tool for university lecturers to highlight salient points to students – now involves heavy fines and even jail sentences.

But despite the use of lasers in Pirates’ two group games in Egypt and in the semi-final against Esperance in Tunisia, CAF chose to erm… turn a blind eye.

It was only thanks to complaints from sports minister Fikile Mbalula and Buccaneers coach Roger de Sa that I was able to call new SAFA president Danny Jordaan after my ANN7 interview and ask: What will be done?

Danny told me: “Yes, we are aware of the problem and the outcry around the country about the lasers in Cairo. We are writing a letter of complaint to CAF and FIFA about their use.”

Like me, Jordaan is concerned that nobody was searched going in to the ground and the stewards did not act against the fans using the lasers at the jam-packed Arab Contractors Stadium. He said: "This is on the record, I'm happy for you to put this out. We had to act."







With any luck, Jordaan’s complaint – the 2010 World Cup organiser has real influence at CAF and FIFA – will enable Kaizer Chiefs to represent South Africa in the 2014 African Champions League without that particular problem.

But there are other reasons for South Africans to celebrate Orlando Pirates’ epic crusade through the continent over the past six months. Amid the debate between the AmaKhosi and the Ghost over just how much celebrating we should be doing around a final defeat, it’s worth noting that the FOUR points Pirates earned for losing in Cairo will earn an automatic second place in the Champions League in 2015.

And if Kaizer Chiefs (and Platinum Stars in the Confederations Cup) get to the group stages, South Africa are guaranteed a second major rise up the CAF club rankings in 2016 after a decade in the doldrums.

The current top twelve, in order and based on results over the past five years in both CAF competitions, looks like this: Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Morocco, DRC, Algeria, Mali, Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Ghana

But Pirates unexpected progress via the Comores, Zambia, DRC (though we never got to see it on the television), Congo, Tunisia and Egypt (thrice) means South Africa should move ahead of both Ghana (11 points) and Cameroon (12 points) next year.

For that reason alone, Roger de Sa and his Pirates deserve credit. But it won’t come easy. Given their current position in the PSL (they’re rock-bottom) and a seven-match streak in the Champions League which ended LLDDDDL, he’s already under pressure as the fireworks cool in Cairo.

But if the Buccaneers WIN all their six or seven games in hand, they can go five points clear of current leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. It's a big IF. But that might quiet the critics. Roger that.


BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice and how we are doing in using @thumperpigeon's R5,000 to make money for the Ball's charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

















Sunday, 10 November 2013

Brave defeat for Orlando Pirates in Cairo: let's not go from Roger That to Roger And Out just yet

Flare: Al Ahly fans with their fireworks
GUTTED. Great job, never out-played. Heads high. Those were my words sizzling across the cellular network to Roger de Sa in Cairo as the whistle blew among the fireworks and green lasers in Cairo on Sunday night.

For Orlando Pirates, just getting to the final was unthinkable six short months ago, as the former double-treble champions stumbled home third behind arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the domestic title race.

To take Al Ahly, now eight times champions, to the very limit in the final was never on the schedule. Proof? Irvin Khoza and his PSL are in a shambles. Even the club and league chairman didn’t expect to get past the notorious TP Mazembe, run by one of the good Doctor’s dodgier pals.

But they did. The Comores, Zambia, DRC… then in the group stages two Egyptian giants and the Congo champions. Incredibly, they squeezed past Tunisia’s Esperance in the semi-finals too.

But to beat reigning champions Al Ahly proved half a step too far for Roger de Sa’s men. A bunch of experienced thirtysomething internationals with more stars than most galaxies was simply too much.

With Happy Jele and Andile Jali suspended for the second leg after a mediocre 1-1 draw in Orlando, it fell to the fast and furious Tlou Segolela to miss the chance of the night. Sadly, the Gautrain’s head can’t keep up with his feet. We knew that. He fluffed his header off Daine Klate’s perfect first-half cross.

Pyramid scheme: Wael Gomaa lifts the trophy

And up front, Lennox Bacela’s one chance flew across the face of the goal and by the time Collins Mbesuma came on for the last hurrah, the game was lost. Muhammed Aboutreika scored in both legs. He was the difference. The second goal was a luxury for the Egyptians.

Roger said he’d “have a go for sure” but even with the Egyptians down to ten for the dying minutes amid those annoying – and illegal – lasers, there was to be no consolation, just a grim 2-0 defeat, 3-1 on aggregate.

Within minutes, the more ridiculous members of our deeply confused football community were calling for Roger’s head. And 1995 match-winner Jerry Sikhosana told us, with a sad nod to beaten 2002 finalist Simba Maruma: “Nobody remembers the side finishing second.”

He’s right of course. But the sharper analysts will have seen how, in six short months, Pirates learned a lot from their African crusade. They play better, shorter football. They possess the ball jealously, like top European sides. And in Oupa Manyisa, they have a player who showed endless quality in the middle of the park with Vieira Masalesa ready to step up behind him.

If Pirates – bottom of the table after three games - were to win all their six or seven games in hand, they’d go five clear of current leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. It might happen.

But whatever happens, to go from ROGERTHAT to ROGEROUT is as ridiculous as calling for the head of Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter after his epic 2-1 win over serious challengers Bidvest Wits on Saturday night.

Calm people. Pirates did the nation proud. Double-winning Chiefs take on Africa next year. They need our support, not hysterical derision.

PS: Will CAF do anything about those bloody lasers?

BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!


Saturday, 9 November 2013

Mark Fish and Nic Ditshego: South Africa will come to a halt at 6pm tomorrow for Orlando Pirates WIN in Cairo

It's all in the bones: Lennox Bacela
TOMORROW at 6pm. Probably the most important 90 minutes in the post World Cup history of South African football. Orlando Pirates go to Al Ahly in Cairo nursing a last-gasp 1-1 draw in Soweto after the first leg of the CAF African Champions League.

With captain Happy Jele and the inspirational Andile Jali both suspended, I asked coach Roger Paulo Cesar De Sar if 37-year-old Lucky Lekgwathi and young midfielder Lehlogonolo "Vieira" Masalesa would start. SMSing from Cairo, "De Star" joked: "They have to, we can't start with nine players!"

That's how desperate it's become for the Buccaneers, who have somehow defied the odds (and Francophile CAF officialdom) to survive torrid journeys to the Comores, Zambia, DRC, Congo and Egypt (twice) to reach their final showdown.

The search for the second star is little different from the first one in 1995 though. On BOLLOCKZ! this week we spoke to living legend Mark Fish about the similarities 18 years on.

Fiiiiiiiish told us on www.ballz.co.za how, in 1995, he "finally learned that muti works" as the Pirates overcame ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast in Abidjan after a 2-2 home draw.

He spoke of Jerry Sikhozana's 73rd minute winner and laughed: "Some people say I played the ball through to him... that's not quite true. It was a clearance, a HOOF! Then two of their defenders ran in to each other because they'd had so little to do. And that was it, Jerry finished, we held on, and we were CHAMPIONS OF AFRICA!

"It was unbelievable, and these Pirates tomorrow have the chance to do the same, to become legends of the game."

After Zwee Maphala's efforts as a Kaizer Chiefs fan last week, we then spoke to die-hard Pirates fan Nic Ditshego about the Pirates quest - and he left us in no doubt.


Nic said: "I've supported Orlando Pirates for as long as I can remember. Very tense moments last Saturday at Orlando Stadium, a lot of people had left when Matlaba scored his magnificent equaliser.

"I don't agree with the big send off, it reminds me of the Bafana parade in Sandton before 2010! But now they're in Cairo, with about 100 black-blooded supporters.

"I had a few Chiefs supporters along with me at Orlando. It's beautiful, we have probably the most unique band of fans anywhere in the world. We all get on.

"At six o'clock tomorrow, I'll be sitting in my full regalia - you know how that looks - shouting for my team. We need this. Let's forget about Manchester United and Arsenal for two hours, take a peek at the score, but everything else comes to a halt.

"We're going to see Lennox Bacela take that one goal, and that's it. That's how we do this!"


See his interview below:




BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!


Oh, and here's my chat with the brilliant Vieira Masalesa a few weeks ago:

Friday, 8 November 2013

Rob Shepherd, the Daily Mail's Grapevine columnist, and our undercover Englishman THE MOLE on BOLLOCKZ!

The Dogz Bollockz! With Matthew Pattison and producer Comfort
Khezwa at the Ballz visual radio studios in Midrand this week


BIDVEST Wits midfielder Matthew Pattison, fresh from winning the Man of the Match award in this week's 1-0 win over AmaTuks, spent time in the BOLLOCKZ! studio at www.ballz.co.za this week.

Exclusive: The Mole in studio

Matt, who played 25 games for Newcastle United before moving to Norwich City, explained how he was born south of Johannesburg, moved to England as a youngster - and eventually returned to play for Mamelodi Sundowns in 2009.

An accomplished broadcast pundit as well as a top professional footballer and novice golfer (!), Pattison interacted with our two English football experts, underground reporter THE MOLE and the Daily Mail's Grapevine columnist Rob Shepherd, talking about Arsenal, Sir Bobby Robson and the European Champions League.






Matt helped us to invest charitable listener Leon Petzer's R1,500 with www.topodds.com too - see the video on their site or carry on watching below!










BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

African Champions League final: Pirates go to Cairo with a fighting chance thanks to a moment of Matlaba magic

Relief of Orlando: Thabo Matlaba celebrates
his late equaliser on Saturday night
THERE was only one place to be on Saturday night. Orlando. The Pirates. Our African Champions League finalists reaching for the stars, uniting the football-speaking nation.

Trains shooting past, blaring their hooters in support, motorways laced with the skull and crossbones, a packed house of 38,000, an army in black and white, interspersed with those in gold and black adding their voices to the national clamour for a second star.

The stage has rarely been better set, whether you prefer the ear-splitting choir of vuvuzelas or a rousing rendition of Shosoloza.

But much like their successful quest for continental domination in 1995, the home leg of the final was not quite what the nation had hoped for. A 1-1 draw in Soweto.

LEGEND: With 1995 final-winner Jerry Sikhosana
at Orlando Stadium on Saturday
When they drew the home leg of the final 2-2 against Ivory Coast’s ASEC Mimosas 13 years ago, coach Joe Frickleton was sacked before the second leg and few expected that dramatic away win, courtesy of Jerry Sikhosana’s unforgettable 73rd minute strike.

But Thabo Matlaba’s stunning last-gasp equaliser on Saturday night offers, as I said to coach Roger de Sa immediately after it went in, “a fighting chance” for a side increasingly adept at grabbing draws from the jaws of defeat.

Ah, Drawlando. Their last six Champions League games go LLDDDD. Though the Buccaneers dominated possession – they enjoyed around 68% of the ball - and got plenty of crosses in to the box from Tlou Segolela and Daine Klate, I don’t remember an isolated and impotent Lennox Bacela winning anything in the danger area.

In midfield, the great Andile Jali looked a shadow of his former self, losing possession and growing ever more sluggish as the game against champions and seven-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt wore on. Egypt’s No1 goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy was really stretched only once, brilliantly denying Jali with a strong right hand at full-stretch.

In midfield, Oupa Manyisa pulled the strings and centre-backs Rooi Mahamutsa and Ayanda Gcaba took enormous risks in an effort to push forward after Mohamed Aboutrika’s free-kick had given the visitors a shock lead with a perfectly-placed free-kick from 25 metres.

To be frank, even the too-little-too-late arrival of experienced Zambian striker Collins Mbesuma looked unlikely to save the Pirates, who were lucky to escape a second Al Ahly goal, Ahmed El-Zaher’s effort unfairly ruled offside early in the second half.

Matlaba’s last-gasp effort was as unexpected as it was welcome. Mr De Star insisted afterwards: "We didn’t just sit back, we were offensive, we pushed midfielders in to the attack, we used real wingers, not wide midfielders.

“For the 90 minutes we kept on trying, we didn’t resort to long balls. We didn’t lose our heads. We were patient, we built it up.”

Ultimately, a 1-1 draw – their fourth successive stalemate in the African Champions League – was a highly fortunate result though the frustrated Pirates can rightly claim to have been the better side.

They go to Cairo with captain Happy Jele and midfielder Jali suspended - but the out-of-favour Lucky Lekgwathi and Vieira Masalesa offer obvious replacements.

De Star said: "We still have a fighting chance. There were plenty of coaches in the ground tonight, but I enjoyed it. We showed character, we can turn this around in Cairo next Sunday.

"I don't know if there's a limit to what this lot can achieve, but they just keep pushing. Look, it’s going to be very difficult there’s no doubt about it, but we’ll go there to win."

Truth is, they don’t need to. A 2-2 draw will earn a second star on away goals. 1-1 will force extra-time and penalties. 0-0 will see Al Ahly retain their African crown on that single free-kick, their only real shot on goal away from home.

But to end it as they did in Abidjan 13 years ago, with a win against all the odds, would be a perfect finish to an exhausting Mission Improbable. They have the talent. They have the squad. But do they have the experience against the gritty Egyptians in front of their first real home crowd in months?



BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

BOLLOCKZ to BOOING! Shakes Kungwane weighs in on the big Kaizer Chiefs debate PLUS Daily Mail Grapevine columnist Rob Shepherd on Ballz visual radio

Safe hands: Deshi
Bhaktawer in Ballz studio
KAIZER CHIEFS fan Zwee Maphala (www.twitter.com/mazweni7) stirred a hornet's nest on www.ballz.co.za this week when he volunteered to go live on BOLLOCKZ! to present the case that the AmaKhozi are RIGHT to boo players.

Zwee, a lifelong Chiefs fan, admits to crying and "kicking the coffee table" when his side loses, but his argument (concisely put on the video below) is that fans pay for their tickets and have a right to boo Kingston Nkhatha when he is not performing.

With Chiefs double-winning boss Stuart Baxter saying such fans are "childish" as he defended his Zimbabwean striker, Zwee bravely stuck to his guns, insisting: "How do we get the coach to listen to the fans? This is our way of getting his attention."





Former Kaizer Chiefs player and SuperSport football analyst Shakes Kungwane (www.twitter.com/shege10) disputed that, saying: "Under no circumstances should players boo their own players. It ruins the players' confidence. It's not on."

With former Orlando Pirates and SABC analyst Deshi Bhaktawer (www.twitter.com/deshibhaktawer) in the studio nodding in agreement, Shakes also came out in support of the Buccaneers' African Champions League campaign, with the first leg played at a sold-out Orlando Stadium tonight.





The www.dailymail.co.uk Grapevine columnist Rob Shepherd (www.twitter.com/robshepherd5) gave BOLLOCKZ! viewers and listeners the lowdown on the week's European action and interacted brilliantly with Deshi - even promising to give the African Champions League a mention in his column this week!





BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal and Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!