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Neville’s eye


A weekend where hogging the remote was justified

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For purposes of observing legal protocols, including common decency, we shall ignore the rot and awful smell that emanates from Jordaan’s office and rather focus on the main reason for this column namely; football in all its glory.

First off. A hearty congratulations to Free State Stars for winning the Nedbank Cup final in Cape Town. Both teams deserved to be in this final. They had consistently applied themselves throughout the season.

It was about time that either of them got some silverware for their effort. It is a good advertisement for football when the underdogs have one over the more fancied sides. This stuff goes a long way in stoking the dreams of youngsters in the rural and urban lands of our country.

Meanwhile, the extravaganza that was put on by the Mamelodi Sundowns vs FC Barcelona clash in midweek in Gauteng deserves a rerun. Here we want to dish out praise and jibes, if you like, to especially the guys in yellow from Tshwane.

In all, I think the spectacular was worth the buck. It also was worth “robbing” the family of the remote and banishing the weekday soapies. Sorry, unlike most of you we survive on a single “boggel” (hunchback) television set.

Hats off to the Spanish team for respecting their many fans in southern Africa. Barcelona did the full honours to the Mandela Legacy match. They brought all the fan favourites and played like it mattered too.

In the Sundowns squad I think Tebogo Langerman was exceptional on the day. So too were Sbu Vilakazi, Percy Tau, Hlompho Kekana, Leandro Sirino and Tiyani Mabunda. Langerman and Vilakazi frequently managed to stunt the Barca onslaught by winning balls away from their feet.

This is no mean feat seeing that outside of Sundowns Barca have a mean passing game. It is called tiki tika, No, it’s not an Nguni word but Spanish lingo for short-passing.

We, meaning Sundowns, didn’t really get into our stride until the 70th minute. This was around the time we brought on Sirino and took out Bangaly Soumahoro. Before that the squad was nervous and chased the ball around the pitch. Sirino’s presence stabilised the middle and helped Sundowns hold on to the ball much longer than they did in the preceding hour or so of play.

Oh, those two early goals! You see because this was a friendly, albeit of an international stature, Pitso Mosimane tried to afford game time to benchmen such as Soumahoro. The favour on such a big occasion completely caught the Ivorian international off-guard.

In 10 minutes of play Soumahoro was still in adjustment mode, Frenchman Ousmane Dembele latched onto a missed tackle by Soumahoro and scored the opener. Another defensive blunder by Soumahoro gifted Luis Suarez with Barca’s second. Suarez netted the third too but luckily Soumahoro was off the pitch by that time.

When we did catch our breath, Sibusiso Vilakazi in typical Sundowns style, “walked” the ball over the chalk line and salvaged some decency for our side. Khama Billiat has the pedigree and record behind him and has nothing to lose or prove. However, on this Wednesday night Billiat chased shadows and never got a chance to show the world what he is capable of.

Apart from that defensive blunder, team captain Hlompho Kekana saved us some blushes. He diverted a goalboud ball to a corner kick.

Kekana topped it off when he later on sent one of his trademark long-distance blasts towards the Barca goal.

We holler to Sundowns management to give us more of the same, what else?