They say there is never a dull moment in South African football. S’Busiso Mseleku looks back at the year that was in the local game.
As has become the norm, the Safa presidential elections turned ugly in such a way that they had to be postponed twice.
Ace Ncobo launched a tough challenge. While he raised some salient and valid points on governance and constitutional matters, he tended to become too personal at times against his adversary, Danny Jordaan.
The latter eventually stood unchallenged after Ncobo pulled out of the race in the 11th hour.
It seems Ncobo has been sent to football Siberia, which is sad as the game needs more people like him.
One of the positives from this year’s elections was the elevation of Ria Ledwaba to the position of one of four vice-presidents.
After reporting a R23.1 million profit at its annual year-end congress last December, which was hailed as “a massive turnaround in the association’s coffers” after recording a R45 million loss in 2016, the organisation announced an R18 million loss in its recent financial report at its annual general meeting early this month.
Safa largely blamed the losses on monies owed to it by the SABC from a previous R110 million annual broadcast rights agreement which the broke public broadcaster has refused to renew, only offering R10 million per annum which the football body turned up its snout at.
National team performances
The women’s national teams hoisted the South African flag high, with Banyana Banyana defending their Cosafa Cup and qualifying for the Women’s World Cup in France next year, but sadly losing the final of the Women’s Afcon in Ghana.
The Under-20 women won the Cosafa Cup, while the Under-17 national team made it to the Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, where they bowed out in the first round. They were one of only three African teams.
Of the men’s junior teams, the Under-17 team lost to Angola in the Cosafa Cup final and the Under-20 team won the Cosafa Cup, thus qualifying for the Under-20 Afcon next year, where they will fight to finish in the top four to qualify for their second successive World Cup in 2021.
Bafana Bafana continued to blow hot and cold.
In March, they raised the nation’s hopes when they beat hosts Zambia 2-0 in the final of the Four Nations Tournament played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium through goals from Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba.
And then, typical of the senior men’s national football team, three months down the line they managed to crash out of the Cosafa Cup, being beaten by Madagascar on penalties.
For a nation used to being disappointed by its first team, Bafana Bafana’s 3-0 victory over Botswana in the Plate final was no consolation.
Many expected Bafana to beat Libya at home.
After a 6-0 walloping of the Seychelles, they managed to play to a goalless draw away at the island in a match that would have secured their passage to next year’s Afcon finals.
Now they need just a point from third-placed Libya who have seven points – two points behind Bafana who are only a point behind Group E leaders, Nigeria, who have nine.
Some small positive is that they are still the only team without a loss in the group.
The Safa president made yet another attempt to get into the Fifa council, but lost to Malawian Walter Nyamilandu. This was blamed on the animosity between South Africa and Morocco, which seems to have taken control of African football.
Safa managed to clinch a sponsorship deal with Outsurance for its referees’ kit. This led to a bitter spat with its special member, the PSL, and talk is that the matter is headed for court.
The administrative governing body recently announced a clothing sponsorship/partnership with Turkish clothing brand D’S Damat for national teams and its national executive committee members.
Its partnership with La Liga has seen many young players go to Spain, while a number of soccer tournaments under way this festive season are sponsored by the Spanish football federation.
Safa handed in a bid to host next year’s Afcon finals after Cameron was disqualified. The governing body is also preparing to bid for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The Absa Premiership nearly had a stuttering start as Ajax Cape Town, who were relegated after points were deducted for using a defaulter in Tendai Ndoro, took the league to court
The Urban Warriors even tried to interdict the NFD promotion play-offs, however, the league stuck to its guns. Eventually, Ajax ran out of steam and the league prevailed.
Another saga that caused some concern was the on-and-off sale of Bloemfontein Celtic. The sale deal was eventually closed.
Amazingly, Steve Komphela, fresh from a horrible three-year tenure at Kaizer Chiefs, kept winning matches at Phunya Sele Sele.
Chief executive officer (CEO)
The CEO position has been a thorn in the most tender part of the PSL anatomy since Brand de Villiers quit in 2015.
The appointment of Mato Madlala as acting CEO in August of that year did not go down well with some. However, it would seem that the 32 clubs – in the Absa Premiership and NFD – that form the board of governors are quite happy with the situation as it has been three years since Madlala took over.
Those who raised eyebrows, and still do, point out that this flies in the face of proper corporate governance – an aspect which the PSL prides itself on – as this means she wears three hats as Lamontville Golden Arrows owner, member of the PSL executive and acting CEO, which makes her the league’s accounting officer.
The appointment of a permanent CEO has been postponed a number of times.
The league seems to be in a healthy financial state, as it reported at its recent annual general meeting that its revenue had grown by R54 million.
“For the year 2017/18 the league’s revenue went up from R884 million to R938 million. This once again demonstrates the strength of the league as it continues to attract sponsorships and broadcast partners,” announced chairman Irvin Khoza.
All of the league’s sponsors seem prepared to stay put.
Football on the field
The perennial question and problem on how to get more bums on seats still seems to be a spot of bother, with no solution in sight.
Whether all PSL clubs are compliant with the Fifa club licensing statute also remains a grey area.
The football being dished up on the grounds every week fluctuates depending on which clubs are playing. Only a few clubs play such attractive football that supporters willingly pay to go and watch matches.
Leading the pack on this sphere is Orlando Pirates, who are currently playing the most attractive brand of football.
Proof that South African football has not grown in the expected rate is that fewer and fewer of our players are getting contracts overseas.
Among those who do get an opportunity, a number return after a season or two, and most fail to become regulars.
That our top player, Tau, could not crack it the first time at Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, who shipped him off on loan to Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgium second tier, says a lot about our football standard.