Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Major development: Tim Sukazi says Majoro is 99.1 percent certain to move to Orlando Pirates before the transfer window closes

Major asset: Majoro

TIM SUKAZI insists he is "99.1 percent certain" that Kaizer Chiefs striker Lehlonololo Majoro will join arch-rivals Orlando Pirates before the transfer window closes at midnight tomorrow.

Sukazi, who saw his prized client turn down a move to SuperSport United earlier this month, has worked miracles to get Chiefs and Pirates around the table to discuss the future of the Bafana goal-getter.

Talking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za, Sukazi (see video below) said: "It was never going to be easy but the two clubs are hard at work trying to get the Majoro situation worked out, to get him to move across NOW.

"I can go so far as to say it's 99.1% the deal will be done by February 1."

Majoro, top scorer at AmaZulu before his move to the AmaKhosi in 2011, has found himself languishing on the bench since the arrival of Zimbabwe's Knowledge Musona on loan from Hoffenheim at the start of the season.

But Sukazi said: "Majoro scored 15 goals for AmaZulu and Chiefs in his last two full seasons. And Orlando Pirates are keen to have him, given their problems scoring goals."

Born in Ladybrand in the Free State 27 years ago, Majoro would be just the man to boost the ailing Pirates "bottom to the top" campaign which has seen the club desperately trying to rise up the table as they make up the backlog of fixtures caused by the Buccaneers' run to the African Champions League final last year.

With coach Roger de Sa saying "Majoro is quality, I'd love to have him here", all that remains is for Pirates and Chiefs to agree to break the gentleman's agreement preventing movement between the Soweto giants - and a willingness to help him move with six months still left on his Naturena contract.

Sukazi said: "Majoro is training on his own at the moment since all this transfer talk began, it would be in everyone's best interests - including Bafana Bafana - if we could get him playing for the next five months.

"Nobody wants top strikers in South Africa kicking their heels. I'm sure Pirates are ready to play Major as soon as possible."

With Glyn Binkin working equally hard to move his train-alone striker Katlego Mphela to Chiefs from Mamelodi Sundowns - a pre-contract has been signed - the two agents both told BOLLOCKZ! how hard they've been working to move their stars before the window closes tomorrow.

Binkin said: "Both Mphela and Majoro need to get playing. They are fit and want to move to their new clubs. We will talk until midnight."

Sukazi revealed he is also set to move Luyolo Nomandela from Free State Stars to Mamelodi Sundowns. Binkin said he had TEN deals that could yet go through, including 15-year-old Liam Jordan - son of the late Bafana striker Keryn - to Bidvest Wits after flying him over from Auckland in New Zealand.






 BOLLOCKZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names. 


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & 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 charity bets for our Wingzofchange charity!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

OH MY GORD! Is this the way ahead for Bafana Bafana after the four-letter word that is CHAN?

Three unwise men: Khune, Mbalula and Igesund

Faster than Itumeleng Khune’s speeding Minnie, more devastating than a Bernard Parker own goal, more dangerous than Willard Katsande’s underpants: the aftershock of South Africa’s ball-numbing defeat against Nigeria’s third team last Sunday has crushed our national spirit.

I warned before the third edition of the “La Orange Championnat d’Afrique des Nations” that CHAN could become a four-letter word for Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund, fresh from that rousing friendly win over world champions Spain.

(And I have said repeatedly that, given our THREE dodgy Bernard Parker penalties against Mozambique, Mali and Nigeria, the name “Cheetahs” might be a worthwhile alternative for embattled SAFA president Danny Jordaan, desperately trying to persuade new sponsors to back his hapless crusade.)

But Gordon wouldn’t listen. Instead of entering a competition for home-based players fraught with danger modestly, he told us: “I don’t want to sound arrogant and say we’ll win it, but we will go all the way.”

He told us "my training sessions are like World Cup finals" and his players got "goose-bumps when they pull on the jersey". What a lot of BOLLOCKZ! that was.

Before that must-draw battle with Nigeria he told us “Playing for a draw is a dangerous thing for any team to do. My philosophy has always been to play to win” and he promptly put out a team with a single striker and five midfielders.

For all sorts of reasons my initial burst of #ingordwetrust tweets have turned to #gordonout; CHAN was a greater disaster than the World Cup (this one and the last) and AFCON2013 combined. It was an absolute farce in terms of selection, tactics and public utterances.

Danny Jordaan, sharing a forum with me on SAFM last week, said the SAFA technical team – which uniquely features two ladies – will decide Igesund’s fate when he submits his CHAN report with FAILED emblazoned across it next week.

And as we watched Zimbabwe and Nigeria surge in to the last four of CHAN, the inevitability of change has sunk in. My telephonic exchanges with Igesund’s son Grant and his ever-present agent Mike Makaab have been about as pleasant as a Katsande challenge laced with Joey Barton’s boots.

What I believe to be the obvious truth is derided by the Igesund camp as “ridiculous”: I have no proof that Thabo Nthethe, the mediocre Bloemfontein Celtic centre-back who was the only ever-present in the CHAN back four, has some sort of privileged role. I cannot say with court-satisfying certainty that Itumeleng Khune’s ankle injury was far too convenient. Or that Igesund and Makaab’s efforts centring on win bonuses before the tournament amounted to undue pressure on SAFA.

The Sunday Times this morning suggested Igesund was urging the players to go on strike, Igesund said "it's a normal procedure to discuss bonuses" while Jordaan insisted "the issue was sorted out in Zambia at COSAFA in June".

But I can say this. Two coaches – Carlos Queiros and a local PSL boss – were called immediately after the Nigeria defeat. Others from Europe have been sounded out. I have the names. Some stunning, others workmanlike.

And Gordon’s reign, which started with such optimism (particularly from me), has dissolved in to a gritty argument involving ethics, integrity, threats and truth. It should be about football.

If Pitso Mosimane got the boot for picking his favourites after a home draw against Botswana, how do we defend Gordon Igesund? While our Sports Minister lamented our “bunch of useless losers” Igesund said he was “at peace with where I am” and Jordaan was scampering about trying to put the blame for an inexplicable failure on development, rugby-playing schools, Apartheid’s legacy and a lack of qualified coaches.

As I said right from the top. CHAN failure at the first hurdle was devastating for our game. This wasn’t a failure on penalties in the AFCON quarter-finals or a deeply ironic Parker own goal in Ethiopia. Without those three Parker penalties, CHAN would have been a diski disaster.

When the SAFA technical team meet “soon after the CHAN final” to discuss the future of our game going in to qualifiers for AFCON 2015 in Morocco, Jordaan said “we have to make sure we are walking the same path with our national coach”.

After the World Cup with Iran, Queiroz will be available to walk that path. So will experienced PSL coaches like Gavin Hunt, Steve Komphela, “Sir” Clive Barker and Amajita’s Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba.

Perhaps the best solution is a combination of a top foreign coach – Nigeria’s Steven Keshi and Zambia’s Herve Renard (now with Sochaux in France) have also been mentioned as winners of the last two AFCONs – in conjunction with a top local.

Whether any of these characters can combine to save our pride (and satisfy Nike, the new technical sponsors) nobody can be sure. But they’d be hard-pushed to do worse than the incumbent over the past fortnight. For me, the key is Igesund's refusal to talk to me since I challenged him on the Thulani Serero groin injury affair. He simply won't justify himself, on air or off the record. A sullen refusal to deal with the issues suggests he has no answers.

As our Sports Minister so rightly said: “We must never wake up to this again.”


 BOLLOCKZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names. 


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & 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 charity bets for our Wingzofchange charity!

PS: This from SAFA president Danny Jordaan on South Africa's possible name change today: "We play Lions, Tigers, Eagles and Elephants. And we come with Boys Boys." 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

BAFANA BAFANA: an apology

Suddenly all those harsh words about South Africa’s hapless loss to Nigeria in Cape Town last Sunday seem so hollow.

Having just seen Steven Keshi, Africa’s coach of the year, lead his Eagles to a scintillating CHAN quarter-final win in the same stadium, this appears to be the perfect time to say sorry to all in involved in Bafana Bafana’s unexpected exit.

As the SuperEagles came surging back from 3-0 down to rescue a tournament that looked doomed after the hosts’ departure, let me retract the following statements:

1 There is no evidence supporting my argument that Bloemfontein Celtic’s Thabo Nthethe was the only man in the back-four to feature throughout the tournament due to his “Face of Mr Price Sport” contract. Or that this was why he captained the side in Itumeleng Khune’s absence.

2 Any suggestion agent Mike Makaab, who represents both Igesund, Nthethe (and many other prominent Bafana stars), has ANY influence on the National Coach’s selections is utterly without foundation.

3 There is no cause to question Itumeleng Khune’s ankle injury, which kept him out of the Nigeria game but not Kaizer Chief’s top-of-the-table clash with Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday.

The truth is, having seen Nigeria’s epic comeback, few sides in the world could have withstood the onslaught of the African Nations Cup holders today. Let’s just accept South Africa can’t quite match the jolly green giants under Keshi.


Friday, 24 January 2014

Words on the death of Trevor Hopf. Advocate. Footballer. Father. Drinker.

On Wednesday night, after a call from a friend, I found well-known advocate at the Pretoria Bar Trevor Hopf, 62, dead in his home in Elardus Park, where he lived alone. A former CBC scholar, Trevor was a free-scoring amateur footballer and the life and soul of many gatherings at Tom's Tavern, a haunt for old footballers in the area.


Hopf, skipf, jumpf

Rest in peace Trevor
You won at the death
Imprinted that picture
With your very last breath

And you went as you said
Marooned in your fate
Alone with your pain
No last message of hate

Was there one last drink
As you started to sink?

For those 62 years
With a brain too quick
Drowned your fears;
Got about on a stick

Laid low by disease
You struggled to walk
Got back on your feet
But you could always talk

God handed you curses
Wine, women and wrong,
Like sharp bible verses
Still you were strong

Three wives, three kids
And great days in court
But it all hit the skids
Just as you thought

Slash your way out?
Even that wouldn’t do
But you never did doubt
Death was coming for you

We all knew Trevor
Was nobody’s fool
Ever so clever
Broke every rule

But life laid him low
It’s true, it ain’t fair
As he limped on
And still tried to care

And for all the bile
As he came to the end
Let me put this on file:

He was nearly my friend

Monday, 20 January 2014

WE MUST NEVER WAKE UP TO THIS: While the Sports Minister rages, Bafana boss Gordon Igesund is "at peace"

Baffling: raging Mbalula and peaceful Igesund
South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula summed up the mood of the nation yesterday, describing Bafana Bafana as “a generation of players we must forget” after the humiliating 3-1 defeat against Nigeria in Cape Town.

Last night’s abysmal 3-1 defeat against an under-strength Nigeria sees the hosts crash out of the CHAN tournament at the first hurdle with the passionate Mbalula also offering this: “Last night we saw a bunch of losers – unbearable useless individuals. We must never wake up to this."

South Africans are accustomed to failure on home soil after going out of the 2010 World Cup in the group stages and missing out on the AFCON semi-finals in a penalty shoot-out. But the CHAN failure – coming despite a series of bizarre penalty decisions in their favour during their opening two matches – takes failure to a whole new level in a tournament open only to home-based players.

Mbalula raged: “The mediocrity we saw yesterday was disgraceful. This tournament has proved we have a crisis of monumental proportions in our national sport.”

Head coach Gordon Igesund is under increasing pressure despite his recent 1-0 friendly win over world champions Spain.

Starting with just one player up front after promising to “go for a win” Igesund made a series of bizarre selections throughout CHAN and appears incapable of raising South Africa’s stock despite protracted negotiations over availability before the tournament.

Mbalula raged: “In Africa we have won nothing – we are the laughing stock. Even Madiba Magic would not have worked. This generation of players we must forget.

“It is back to the drawing board. SAFA must draw up a detailed plan. They must wake up and smell the coffee.”

Igesund, famous for “having a cup of coffee” with (among others) Everton’s Steven Pienaar when he quit international football, insists: "What went wrong? Nigeria are a better side than us. We've got no excuses. We've got to look at ourselves and say that we weren't good enough."

Highlighting his record of 28 games, 14 wins, 7 draws and 7 losses, Igesund said:  “I just have to continue from where I am. I have a contract until June. I'm at peace with where I am."

But SAFA president Danny Jordaan, hoping to present a winning team to new technical sponsors NIKE next month, admitted: “We are facing three challenges - a new technical sponsor, do we need a new name for the team, and we must review the preparation, philosophy and the technical side of things.”


See also: http://neal-collins.blogspot.com/2014/01/grim-gordon-drinking-at-last-chance.html


BOLLOCKZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names. 


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & 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 charity bets for our Wingzofchange charity!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Grim Gordon has run out of CHANces: South Africa 1-3 Nigeria leaves the nation in despair

Oh Gord! Igesund promised to attack but went with a loan striker
THERE will not be many bleaker nights for South African football. Defeat against Nigeria in Cape Town on Sunday night was not just disappointing. It was embarrassing.

Before the Group A finale, national head coach Gordon Igesund went to great lengths to tell us what a positive chap he is. Anybody with any knowledge of the man’s previous record would have pricked an ear at these brave words.

Boom! "“Playing for a draw is a dangerous thing for any team to do. You have to go out and play to win.”

Pow! “My philosophy has always been to play to win. But when you start thinking about trying to play for a draw then you are doing the wrong thing and you end up making incorrect decisions.”

Crash! “I cannot compromise my principles which are to win every match – if the other team scores three then you score four. It has worked for me in the past so there is no way I will play defensively to get a result. I believe we are good enough to win the game the way we want to.”

So what did Mr Win-or-bust do before a clash against the jolly green giants which required just a point to ensure qualification from Group A? He picks FIVE midfielders and goes with Bernard Parker up front on his own. Against a side South Africa have NEVER beaten, hadn’t scored against since 2004. Disastrous.

Right from the outset, Igesund had opted to go for the draw. His selection shouted that aloud. And to compound matters, with regular goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune out with an ankle injury, he made the fragile Bloemfontein Celtic centre-back Thabo Nthethe, 29, his captain and dropped impressive young AmaTuks defender Buhle Mkhwanazi, 23, for Kaizer Chiefs Tefu Mashamaite.

It should have been Mkhwanazi and MashaMIGHTY, as we soon found out. And why throw in Langerman for a game of this stature?

Like watching a horror show, everything Igesund had warned us about happened; Nigeria went 2-0 up, a defensive Bafana were forced to throw on the second striker Katlego Mashego in the first half, and all was lost.

Ejike Uzoenyi scored twice and hit the crossbar with a fizzer as he sought the first hat-trick of the CHAN 2014 tounament, Ifeanyi Ede scored the other. And at 3-0, with Mali back on level terms after a surprise early goal from pointless Mozambique in the other Group A clash, South Africa were gone. Another hosted tournament, another disaster.

Only then did Bafana begin to play, with Bernard Parker scoring his 22nd international goal from the spot. His four-goal haul in three games looks impressive, but in truth three of those were penalties.

And there’s the rub. In truth, South Africa needed a dodgy penalty to get back in the game in their opening 3-1 win against Mozambique. And they had a stonewall penalty for Mali NOT given against them before ANOTHER controversial penalty gave them an undeserved point in game two.

Ultimately, footballing justice prevailed. The best two sides in the group – young, athletic squads from Nigeria and Mali – triumphed over South Africa’s jaded bunch of old professionals promised R80 000 a win plus a further bonus from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula if they actually won the tournament.

We can debate long and hard about who is to blame for Sunday’s nightmare. Should Orlando Pirates – crushed 2-1 by SuperSport United on Saturday – have made their African Champions League finalists available?

Did the row over player availability (led by Kaizer Chiefs but quietly supported by Bidvest Wits and others) cause pre-tournament problems?

Should Gordon have opted for youngsters after Amajita’s rousing COSAFA Under20 triumph in Lesotho last month?

Will Itumeleng Khune’s ankle, not strong enough for Nigeria, be okay for Kaizer Chiefs top-of-the-table clash against Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday?

Ah, forget all that. None of it mattered on Sunday. The problem was Igesund. He chopped and changed without reason, without explanation. Moon, Vilakazi, Mokeke, Mkhwanazi and Manqele were in and out, old favourites like Tshabalala, Nthethe and Chabangu were always favoured.


Chabangu and Tshabalala appear unable to play themselves out of contention. And Igesund didn’t even explain his questionable selection after the game, insisting: “We were out-muscled. Nigeria are stronger than us. I’m very disappointed. But it was not to be. It wasn’t our day.”

I think we’ve heard that before, Gordon. Have we really moved forward since that opening game in Brazil? Have we got rid of the habitual losers who have inhabited the green shirt – soon to be sponsored by Nike – for so long?


No. The new broom has not swept. Development is forgotten. Our junior squads are still chaotic. You don't have agreements with PSL coaches, you bark at them. Players are picked for commercial reasons. Our squad continues to head towards an average age of 30 with alarming speed. It’s not good enough. Even with all those excuses. Simply not good enough. In Gord, I'm afraid, I no longer trust.

BOLLOCKZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names. 


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & 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 charity bets for our Wingzofchange charity!

Friday, 17 January 2014

SuperSport United CEO Stanley Matthews lifts the lid on the transfer window, Majoro's U-turn... and 13 years of Tim Sukazi

Making his point: SuperSport United CEO Stan Matthews

STANLEY MATTHEWS, the SuperSport United CEO, lifted the lid on the problems agents create in the transfer market last night but insisted: “It happens all over the world.”

Talking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za, former PSL CEO Matthews refused to condemn striker Lehlonolo Majoro for his “u-turn” on joining SSU from Kaizer Chiefs, arguing “every player has that right”.

Matthews pointed to a 13-year relationship with Lehlonololo Majoro’s agent Tim Sukazi – and insisted all is well between them despite last night’s release of a statement revealing Majoro was set to move to Orlando Pirates  (see http://neal-collins.blogspot.com/2014/01/full-text-of-agent-tim-sukazi-statement.html).

Matthews had publicly confirmed Majoro’s move to Tshwane but was forced to backtrack. But he remains unfazed, saying: “They call the transfer window the silly season all around the world, not just in South Africa. Sometimes it can become complex unnecessarily.

“You’re always going to have situations where there’s things go wrong. The biggest problem for me is sometimes the role of agents in transfer dealings, they make it more complicated.

“Agents come in and colour the issue, some of them multiple deal, you think you’re moving in one direction but behind the scenes things are happening you aren’t aware of. But it does happen around the world, where these shenanigans happen.

“Last week we had to take it on the chin (when the George Maluleka swap deal with Majoro fell through) and we did. Hopefully things are better this week!

“There’s not a lot of good agents in this country. You have to develop a working relationship with people, like I have with Majoro’s agent, Tim Sukazi.

“We’ve been working together 13 years, he’s never ever told me something that didn’t happen or confirmed something that was wrong. I took his word on it – that’s what happens.

“Sometimes the player has to stand up and take responsibility. But in the end, it isn’t the agent who signs the contract, it is the player. The agent is there to represent the will of the player. I’d been informed on one story the whole way through with Majoro, but at the last minute that changed.

“Two things have to happen in a transfer:  the two clubs need to agree and the player needs to agree personal terms. We had the same situation with Manyama (Ajax and Chiefs had agreed, gone public… but Manyama ended up at SSU) and Majoro. The player did a u-turn. Players have the right to play where they want to play.

“We withdrew our offer, we’ve moved on quite publicly and to be quite honest with you, not two days ago, the agent was back asking me if we would take Majoro on a six month loan.

“But we’ve closed that chapter and by then we were working on other players. We’re very excited about Dino Ndlovu arriving on loan – and he is available to play against Orlando Pirates (at the Orlando Stadium tomorrow, 3.30pm).

“We really have nothing else to say on the issue: Good luck to Majoro wherever he ends up playing. He’s a quality player, he’s got goals in him.”

With Thato Mokeke – one of the finds of the current CHAN tournament for Bafana - and Clayton Daniels both signing pre-contracts, Matthews said: “There was always going to be a reshuffle after Gavin Hunt left. Cavin Johnson came in, started nicely, slipped back a little bit, but certainly by next year we’d like to be in a position to win the title.


“If we have a good run, anything is possible this season too – we are in the top six. Let’s see how it goes against Pirates.”




BOLLOCKZ! my own football 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Full text of agent Tim Sukazi statement on Lehlohonolo Majoro: it looks like Orlando Pirates

BOLLOCKZ! Majoro has proved he has "balz" by forcing a move
from Kaizer Chiefs to arch-rivals Orlando Pirates
FOR IMMEDIETE RELEASE
16 January 2013
THE MAJORO SAGA UNFOLDS
As the person who has been in the forefront of the football transfer saga involving Lehlohonolo Michael Majoro (formerly of Kaizer Chiefs) and after much speculations about his future in football, I find it fair to inform the football loving public, through this medium, that his destination has now been finalised.
Majoro will be joining Orlando Pirates football club, most likely in this transfer window, provided that Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates reach agreement regarding his immediate release. Otherwise, he is well set to join the Orlando Club upon the expiry of his current contract. This therefore means that all questions regarding him having signed a pre-contract with Pirates have now become theoretical. This notwithstanding, current indications are that Majoro will don the famous Black and White jersey in no time from now onwards.
I will deal with more questions on this matter when I engage with various media later this evening or tomorrow morning.
Yours truly,
TIM SUKAZI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Yes, here it is. For immediate release. Tim Sukazi, whose efforts to move his prime striker Lehlohonolo Majoro to SuperSport United in a swap deal with George Maluleka were frustrated, has finally revealed WHY the former Amazulu top goal scorer refused the deal.

In three devastating paragraphs starting with the spelling of "IMMEDIATE" gone awry, Sukazi reveals Majoro is, as I've said all along, is ready to break the "gentleman's agreement" and go to Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates.

It's the better move. No question. Reports of interest from Ajax Cape Town and talk of pre-contract signatures, as Sukazi says, are now rendered theoretical.

There is still talking to be done - chiefly over whether the move will be immediate or at the end of the season - but this statement ends weeks of speculation. Majoro, currently training on his own at the Nike Football Centre, can now focus on "donning the famous black and white jersey".

Quite what the war-like Bobby Motaung, General Manager of Kaizer Chiefs, will make of this, I'm not sure. He could yet derail the whole process, but  understand his relationship with Irvin Khoza at Pirates goes beyond the cordial.

On the positive side, Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter was happy to live without his "Major" as he has Katlego Mphela on his way from Mamelodi Sundowns to add to the current strike force of on-loan Knowledge Musona and Bafana penalty king Bernard Parker.

But Buccaneers across the nation will be ecstatic: on the day they announced the signings of former Roses United trio Helder Pelembe,Lwazi Skosana and Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Majoro is a welcome big name move.

The big clue came from Roger de Sa earlier this week. With Collins Mbesuma still overweight, Ndumiso Mabena becoming a bit of a joke and Lennox Bacela struggling more in the PSL than he did in the African Champions League, the Orlando Pirates coach said:

"Majoro is one player... honestly I think he's a fantastic striker. He played for Chiefs and Bafana, and scored a lot of goals. So, I would sign him if it was up to me, but unfortunately my job is to coach the team."

The scene was then set for Majoro to switch Soweto giants, despite the "gentleman's agreement" in place between the two clubs since Jimmy Tau's move from Pirates to Chiefs. The first approach came from Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala, direct to Majoro. At the time, Floyd Mbele was in Cape Town on his Christmas holiday, which is why he denied all knowledge of the deal last week.

Whether this will accelerate Katlego "Killer" Mphela's move from Mamelodi Sundowns to Kaizer Chiefs - he has signed a pre-contract with six months left on his contract - remains unclear.

For Majoro to make the "immediete" move to Pirates, a loan deal or a six-month payment will have to be made - something Sukazi is currently negotiating.

But at least the Majoro picture is clearer now. And he won't have to play with himself any more!


NEDBANK CUP DRAW:


The Nedbank Cup - which threw 16 PSL teams in the hat with eight National First Division clubs and eight lower division teams - will feature a first round dominated by the Tshwane derby between Amatuks and SuperSport United.



The other all-PSL first round ties see Mpumalanga Black Aces travel to Maritzburg United while rock-bottom Golden Arrows entertain promoted Polokwane City and 

The big guns? Orlando Pirates will play last season's NFD play-off club Thanda Royal Zulu while Kaizer Chiefs must travel to Black Leopards - relegated from the PSL last season and now under the guidance of the astute Kostadin Papic.

First round ties will be played February 19-26.

Last 32 Draw
United FC vs AmaZulu
Golden Arrows vs Polokwane City
University of Pretoria vs SuperSport United
University of Stellenbosch vs Bloem Celtic
FC Buffalo (Eastern Cape) vs FC Cape Town
Mainstay United (Northern Cape) vs African Warriors
Milano United vs Bloemfontein Young Tigers
Moroka Swallows vs Mbombela United
Maritzburg United vs MP Black Aces
Santos vs Gamalakhe United (KZN)
Free State Stars vs Witbank Spurs
Platinum Stars vs Great North FC (Limpopo)
Ajax Cape Town vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Black Leopards vs Kaizer Chiefs
AmaBEE FC/PLK City Rovers FC vs Bidvest Wits
Thanda Royal Zulu vs Orlando Pirates




BOLLOCKZ! my own football 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

It's not a disaster! But it was an injustice. South Africa 1, Mali 1 - and a draw against Nigeria on Sunday will do nicely

The deadly elbow: Bernard Parker
Imagine, if you will, the scene in downtown Bamako earlier tonight. Dad and sons sitting in front of the television, kicking the dog and shouting in French: “We wuz robbed! Merde!”

Come on, you know it’s true. South Africans must put themselves in Mali’s shoes tonight. Itumeleng Khune’s rash ninth-minute challenge on the impressive Abdoulaye Sissoko WAS a penalty. On SABC1, former Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Deshi Bhaktawer admitted: “He was two weeks late, nowhere near the ball, penalty for me.”

Not 15 minutes later, at the other end, PENALTY GIVEN as Lindokuhle Mbatha, making his full debut, was hauled down JUST OUTSIDE THE BOX.  Souleymane Konate found himself booked and Bernard Parker crashed home the penalty, as he does. Bhaktawer was spot on again: “It was outside the box, and he didn’t make much contact. No penalty.”

And that, my footballing loving friends, was that for the first half. Though out-played and out-muscled, Bafana got to half-time 1-0 up.

Ibrahima Sidibe’s second half equaliser was inevitable, exposing South Africa's defensive frailties. Well taken though. And just.

So how do the Malians feel? And any neutrals? Remember, South Africa has done little to dispel the match-fixing cloud raised by FIFA after those dodgy pre-World Cup friendlies in 2010. Suspensions were handed out, then rescinded. The great Presidential Inquiry appears to have been forgotten. Nobody has been punished.

And Mozambicans may feel Parker’s penalty on Saturday, which put Bafana back in the game at 1-0 down, was unjust too - as was the spot kick in their 4-2 defeat against Nigeria last night.

Essentially, a 1-1 draw against higher-ranked Mali (exactly as I predicted) was a good result for the hosts. They can afford to finish with a draw against Nigeria and no matter what the vastly superior Malians do against pointless Mozambique, the hosts will go through to the quarter-finals. Probably in second place.

With Sissoko hitting the woodwork and Bloemfontein Celtic’s Thabo “Mr Price” Nthethe showing once more how far short of international class he really is next to young Buhle Mkhwanazi, Mali ended the game as it had begun: putting pressure on the home goal.

Itumeleng Khune, eager to move to the European big-time, appeared over-anxious. The highlight of his game, apart from a couple of rash rushes from his goal, came just before half-time when he tried a cheeky shot from all of 60 yards that dropped just over the Mali bar.

The midfield pairing of Hlompho Kekana and Matthew Pattison struggled. Kekana, scorer of a match-changing scorcher in the opening 3-1 triumph over Mozambique on Saturday, had one mighty shot which bent wide but failed in his task to replace the injured Reneilwe Letsholonyane as a box-to-box midfielder. Pattison was forced to become a poor man’s Dean Furman, breaking down attack after attack, unable to move over the halfway line or create anything vaguely constructive.

Up front, Bernard Parker found himself outpaced by the athletic Malians, with little or no support – especially when Gordon Igesund left him on his own up front, removing second striker Edward Manqele, who had been warming up before the 54th minute Mali equaliser. Weird that. It looked like going with one up front was a “park the bus” concept ruined by Sidibe’s well-taken leveller. But Igesund carried on with the substitution anyway.

And then, with Mali pushing for the winner, we had to endure the arrival of Lerato Chabangu as a replacement. Another Igesund favourite. His first task was to completely miss a volley just outside the box. How do the rest of the 23-man squad feel, watching replacements of that calibre?

But for all the critique of Igesund’s methods, a point represents something of a triumph. Only defeat against Nigeria in Cape Town will put South Africa out of the quarter-finals and given the talent on show from Mali last night, that’s not a disaster.

But if I were Cameroon referee Mal Souley Mohamadou, I’d probably avoid holidays in neighbouring Mali for a few lifetimes.



 BOLLOCKZ! my own football show on www.ballz.co.za, restarts after the Christmas break tomorrow at 9am. Supersport United coach Cavin Johnson will be on, explaining his loan signing of Bafana strike Dino Ndlovu. 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Our training sessions are like World Cup finals: How Gordon Igesund aims to take South Africa all the way

NO NONSENSE: Gordon Igesund
BAFANA BAFANA coach Gordon Igesund has revealed the watchwords in his quest for CHAN silverware as South Africa prepare for their vital Group A clash with Mali tomorrow night.

Igesund’s mantra involves a series of two-word couplets: man-management; no-nonsense; goose-bumps.

Talking on www.ballz.co.za (see video below), Igesund – fresh from that opening 3-1 win over Mozambique, said: “In the modern game of football, I think 70 percent of it is to man-manage players who are paid a lot of money, they are celebrities. You have to let them know you are a no-nonsense person.

“Give them the respect they deserve, but they need to apply themselves I training… and from the moment they put the national jersey on.

“One thing about the Bafana team right now, what makes me very proud, is they all want to play, they’re proud to be a part of it. They want to be here. To play for millions of people. I tell them they must get goose-bumps when they go out to represent their nation.

“My training sessions are like World Cup finals. You must see it. That’s the attitude all my players have. Nobody has a right to be selected. They all want to be part of the starting line-up. There are no automatic choices.

“It’s all very good and respectful, but they compete.

“And the most important thing is, we’re scoring goals. That’s what people want to see. They want to see Bafana fighting… and scoring. Playing the kind of football they enjoy.”

Asked which is his favourite venue for Bafana games, Igesund said: “As a coach, I love the Cape Town Stadium and the Moses Mabhida… but that’s taking nothing away from Soccer City. We have such good stadiums. But I’d say we get the best support in Cape Town. The audience is a complete mix, a Rainbow Nation coming together.

“Slowly but surely, no matter where we are, if we play the right kind of football, the fans will come with us.

“I’m just so grateful for the support we’re getting in Cape Town. We had 26,000 for that opening game, let’s hope they stay with us for Mali and Nigeria and beyond Group A.”

And that’s a good thing. Mali tomorrow and Nigeria on Sunday will be played in the Mother City and if they top the group, the quarter-final will also take place at the Cape Town Stadium (January 25) with a semi-final in Mangaung (Jan 29) before a hoped-for return to Cape Town for the final on February 1.

With Igesund promising “two or three changes” for the Mali game, he added: “The guys are very pleased with that opening 3-1 win over Mozambique, it took a lot pressure off us. The players are under huge scrutiny, passions are high, people say we HAVE to win the tournament.

“They coped with that very well on Saturday, coming back from 1-0 down – after training, I can say everybody is really looking forward to the second game.

"I am contemplating making changes, Mali is a totally different game, I want to have a bit more pace going forward.

"We are playing against a very good and physical team so we have been working hard on keeping the ball, making quick passes because we don’t want to get into a tussle with them as we will come off second best.

"We need to be clever and use the ball well and need to be more penetrative than we were in the first match. So the mission is very clear – we have to get a result in this game so we know where we are.

"I was quite surprised how impressive Mali was against Nigeria, we have our work cut out for us.

“There are some very, very good teams here for CHAN. Morocco have eight of the Raja Casablanca players who played against Bayern Munich in the World Club Cup final in December.”

But as he has said form the start, Igesund believes a combination of no-nonsense, goose-bumps and man-management could end with long-awaited success: "We're not being arrogant saying we want to win this CHAN tournament, what we are saying is that we're going to be very competitive and I think we can go all the way.”




BOLLOCKZ! my own football show on www.ballz.co.za, restarts after the Christmas break on 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

CHANUARY COULD BE CHANTASTIC: Kekana thunderbolt lights up a hungry footballing nation


CHANTASTIC: Kekana (centre) celebrates his cracker
CHANUARY. That’s what we call it when the footballing New Year starts with the much-maligned third edition of the Championnat d’Afrique des Nations.

In English? The African Nations Championship. But calling it the ANC would be a little confusing given the unveiling of the ruling party’s manifesto over the weekend.

Poorly marketed, widely disrespected, there appeared to be no CHANce this tournament would really inspire our Rainboo Nation – until THAT sublime moment from Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Hlomphe Kekana. CHANtastic!

With the opening game against Mozambique in Cape Town locked at 1-1 after a series of habitually missed chances for Gordon Igesund’s Bafana Bafana, Kekana’s Kracker left visiting goalkeeper Soarito cartwheeling through the sky as his 35-yard hammerblow hit the back of the net.

And suddenly CHAN was up and running. A 3-1 opening triumph. With Mali beating AFCON holders Nigeria 2-1 later on the night, the tournament – limited to home-based players – had suddenly blossomed. With R80,000 win bonuses, full international caps and FIFA ranking points on offer, that’s as it should be after the unseemly row over player availability.

For a nation exhausted by hosting (2009 Confederations Cup, 2010 Fifa World Cup, 2013 Africa Cup of Nations), Igesund and SAFA were under huge pressure to get off to a winning start in a tournament where only the winners emerge from the qualifying pools.

Either side of Kekana’s Kracker, Bernard Parker – ironically one of the players Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung wanted withdrawn from CHAN - scored his 20 and 21st goals for the nation, the first a hotly disputed penalty, the second a neat left-foot finish. A troubled first half was forgotten, a rousing win had the Cape Town audience on its feet.

Igesund grins:  "History tells you a win in the first game gives you a 70 percent chance of qualifying. At AFCON and the World Cup, we drew our first game, it was difficult from there onwards, an opening draw puts a lot of pressure on the team.

"Winning today gives the players lots of confidence, the fans get behind us and fill the stadium up when we play, they start believing again.

"If you're creating chances like we did, you have to be happy. We had 20 chances and scored three. We always looked like we were going to get one after they Mozambique scored. I was very confident.

“Sometimes you watch a team play and they don't score a goal and they haven't even created any opportunities. Yes, we had a major problem with scoring goals but we haven't got that problem any more!"

Mali, now officially the SERIOUS rivals in Group A, loom on Wednesday at the merry Cape Town Stadium with Igesund insisting: “Look it wasn’t a classic performance. But we had control of the game and we scored two fantastic goals – especially Kekana’s.

"It was the kind of goal you dream about. When Kekana struck it, I thought: “He’s taken the wrong choice there, he’s a bit far out” but when you saw it fly, you could see it had goal written all over it.

"In the first-half I thought we played okay – we didn’t really penetrate and I thought we were unfortunate to concede the early goal (Itumeleng Khune admitted afterwards he slipped and fell short of the deflected shot).

"But in the second half I was very happy, we kept possession, didn't panic and kept plugging way and were rewarded with the three points which was crucial for us."

With Thato Mokeke, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Lindokuhle Mbatha and Asavela Mbekile all making their full Bafana debuts, Igesund argues: "That also excited me today. Sometimes debutants can get a little nervous out there, but I was pleased that we were able to bring them on. We believe in these younger players; slowly but surely you have to do it, like we're doing it right now... I was very pleased for them."





 BOLLOCKZ! my own football show on www.ballz.co.za, restarts after the Christmas break on 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

La 3e Orange Championnat d’Afrique des Nations 2014: Will CHAN be a four-letter word for Gordon Igesund

Under pressure: Bafana Head Coach Gordon Igesund

CHAN. A year ago nobody knew what those four letters meant. Now they spell danger for South Africa coach Gordon Igesund.

Officially, CHAN is a shortening of “La 3e Orange Championnat d’Afrique des Nations 2014” an African Championship for home-based players – no of those highly-paid stars from Europe allowed.

On the surface of it, the tournament sounds a great idea and for the long-suffering Igesund, fresh from that earth-shaking win over FIFA’s No1 Spain.

Who could ask for more: Orlando Pirates have just reached the final of the African Champions League, our glittering PSL is considered the richest league in Africa and Bafana get to play at the magnificent Cape Town Stadium, where fans turn up to watch paint dry.

But the chance of an international football tournament being won on home soil for the first time since 1996 has been shaken by that unseemly spat between SAFA, the PSL and our greatest footballing franchise, Kaizer Chiefs.

We all know the details. The PSL dumped the top-of-the-table clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Chiefs slap bang in the middle of the CHAN tournament and despite an agreement forged with SAFA, Bobby Motaung (and quietly, Jose Ferreira) threatened to withdraw their stars.

But following Saturday’s sparkling statement of patriotic fervour from SAFA, all 23 members of the squad were present and correct before the opening CHAN clash against Mozambique on January 11. Kaizer over-ruled Bobby. Hooray!

But wait. The fact is Igesund now finds himself under huge pressure to emerge from Group A (Mali and AFCON champions Nigeria complete the group) before surging to CHAN silverware. It feels like South Africa has bent over backwards for SAFA and the nation is demanding the ultimate result.

But the truth is, this is not a great Bafana squad. Orlando Pirates? Their African crusaders weren’t even considered. Our talented foreign contingent, as per the rules, are absent.

Igesund, rather than turn to the Amajita who recently won the COSAFA Under 20 tournament under Ephraim Shakes Mashaba in Lesotho, finds himself trying to persuade his aging squad to overcome all obstacles. Anything less and the calls for his head will rise to a crescendo despite THAT glorious triumph over Spain (which has actually seen Bafana slip one place to 62 in the FIFA rankings).

Igesund himself is full of platitudes: “At the end of the day this is our national team; it’s the national team for the people. We want to do well, try and get as many players as we can to compete and win things.

“We are trying to change the mentality of the people out there. We want to start having a winning mentality.”

The truth is, Gordon, it’s win or bust. Selecting the old favourites and forcing them to play in the middle of an already chaotic PSL season without drafting in a few promising youngsters could spell trouble. Serious trouble.

BOLLOCKZ! my own football show on www.ballz.co.za, restarts after the Christmas break on 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 Ballz charity WINGZ OF CHANGE.