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Moments that defined local soccer

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By Jonty Mark

1 PIRATES ‘DOUBLE TREBLE’

Orlando Pirates went into the final game of the Absa Premiership season against Golden Arrows in Durban on May 19 needing victory for a second successive league title. The game was locked at 2-2 at half-time, but Benni McCarthy came up trumps, with a second half double, to give the Bucs the Championship. That completed an excellent first season back in domestic football for McCarthy, and another fantastic campaign for Pirates. Under Ruud Krol, Pirates did the treble in 2011/12, winning the MTN8, the league title and the Nedbank Cup. This time around, in a Julio Leal/Augusto Palacios combo, they picked up the MTN8, the Telkom Knockout and another league title

2 SUPERSPORT WIN NEDBANK CUP

On May 27, the grand finale to the domestic season saw a Tshwane derby, as SuperSport and Sundowns clashed in the Nedbank Cup final. Gavin Hunt won three league titles with Matsatsantsa between 2007 and 2010, but his knockout record with the club was dreadful – until now. Billed as underdogs, SuperSport were all over Sundowns from the start, the better side even before Clayton Daniels was sent off for a professional foul 17 minutes in. Thabo September gave SuperSport the lead seven minutes before the break, while the evergreen Sibusiso Zuma set up Kermit Erasmus to seal the deal in the second half. Sundowns were never at the races and were left trophiless once more.

3 moroka swallows lift the mtn8

Zeca Marques had giant-size boots to fill when he stepped up from assistant coach to take over from Gordon Igesund at the start of the season. But he more-than fulfilled his first task – to add silverware to the brilliant runners-up spot in the 2011/12 title race. Swallows eased past AmaZulu in their MTN8 quarter-final, and then took down Mamelodi Sundown in a thrilling, two-legged, 11 goal semi-final extravaganza. In the final against SuperSport, they fell behind early to a Franklin Cale strike, but a brilliant effort from Georgian Giorgi Nergadze levelled matters and about five minutes from time, Bennett Chenene popped up to lob home the winner and send Birds fans into delirium.

4 MATCH-FIXING HITS SA

On May 31 2010, in a warm-up game for the Fifa World Cup, South Africa beat Guatemala 5-0. Soon, however, this result could well be expunged from the record books. Only last week, the South African Football Association received a report from Fifa, suspecting match-fixing in that game, and other pre-World Cup friendlies. Wilson Raj Perumal, a man who has been fixing games all over the globe, running companies as a front for an Asian betting syndicate was arrested last year in Finland. Perumal was hired by Safa to help organise friendlies against the likes of Thailand, Colombia and Guatemala. Safa president Kirsten Nematandani, along with four other officials, have now taken voluntary leave from the association.

5 BHELE ROLLS BACK THE YEARS

Siyabonga ‘Bhele’ Nomvethe had a stellar 2012. The Moroka Swallows front man, at a ripe old 34 years of age, topped the Absa Premiership scoring charts with 20 goals, helping to propel the Birds to second in the league table. Nomvethe was named South Africa’s Footballer-of-the-Year, and even got a call up to Pitso Mosimane’s squad for Bafana’s World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia. He was called up again by Gordon Igesund for September’s Brazil friendly, but injury foiled his chances, and has done all year, ending his chances of appearing at the 2013 Nations Cup. Moroka Swallows’ league form has also suffered in Nomvethe’s absence, and it can only be hoped that he is back soon.

6 CELTIC END TROPHY DROUGHT

Bloemfontein Celtic have some of the best supporters in the land, full of song and dance, in victory and defeat. But Phunya Sele Sele had gone a long time without a trophy to give back to their fans, the 2005 SAA Supa 8 their last piece of silverware, until the 2012 Telkom Knockout came around. Clinton Larsen’s side scored twice in the last 12 minutes to take down Chippa United in the last 16, and an even more miraculous comeback followed in the quarter-final against Orlando Pirates. A Joel Mogorosi goal, in extra time, helped Celtic to a 3-2 win over Free State Stars in the semi. And the Botswanan winger also scored the goal that beat Sundowns in the final.

7 PITSO GETS THE BOOT

Pitso Mosimane’s reign at the helm of Bafana Bafana lasted just under two years, coming to an end following Bafana’s draw at home to Ethiopia on June 3 in their opening 2014 World Cup qualifier. Mosimane might have gone about eight months earlier, when a mis-understanding of the rules led to Bafana playing out a draw with Sierra Leone in Nelspruit, thinking it was enough to qualify them for the 2012 African Nations Cup. Mosimane was inclined to blame the rules more than his own mistake, and increasingly went into denial about his side’s abilities as the months wore on. The shoddy draw at home to Ethiopia prompted the South African Football Association to fire him.

8 GORDON IGESUND, A DOSE OF PARANOIA AND THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL

Gordon Igesund was chosen by Safa as Bafana’s new man, finally getting reward for years of success in domestic club football. Igesund’s first task was a tough-looking assignment, a friendly against Brazil in Sao Paulo at the start of September. Igesund didn’t help himself with his slightly odd handling of the media in Sao Paulo, having to be persuaded to allow interviews with certain players, only after having given slightly odd reasons for the very-same interviews not to go ahead. Igesund’s slightly new-look Bafana, with the likes of Dean Furman and Lerato Chabangu in the side, gave Brazil a decent game, only going down to a late goal from Hulk. The Brazilian fans in the ground, in fact, booed their own team for long periods and cheered for South Africa! Igesund’s first real test, however, comes in just a few weeks time, at the African Nations Cup.

9 STUART BAXTER AND HIS CHRISTMAS CHAMPIONS

Some eyebrows were raised when former Bafana coach Stuart Baxter rocked up at Naturena as the latest man charged with attempting to bring Kaizer Chiefs the league title. But the Scot has thus far done a sterling job, putting together a Chiefs side that tops the table, if only by a point, going into the lengthy Christmas break. Baxter can take credit for revitalizing the career of Bernard Parker, currently on top of the league’s scoring charts, while the Amakhosi have generally been a hive of entertainment, netting 31 times in 16 league games thus far. Baxter must now hope that he gets his squad back fit and raring to go for the second half of the season, with at least seven of his number likely to be in Gordon Igesund’s Afcon squad.

10 from rags to riches – roger de sa

Imagine, the coach of a mid-table side in England being sacked at the start of the season, and then hired by Manchester City a month or so into the new campaign. Well, the South African equivalent pretty much happened to Roger De Sa this season. De Sa was dumped by Bidvest Wits, who went in favour of a new coach, and pretty-much a new team under new CEO José Ferreira. But Irvin Khoza saw the charismatic coach as the perfect man to take over from Augusto Palacios at the Buccaneers. And thus far, he has been proved exactly right, De Sa taking Pirates within a point of Kaizer Chiefs at the top of the table, losing just twice, to Bloemfontein Celtic, in both the league and Telkom Knockout. The new Bucs coach has Sifiso Myeni playing for him like he did at Wits, while he has also managed to get the best out of an ageing Collins Mbesuma. The new year promises a classic Soweto title showdown.

stats and quotes

57 - The number of appearances Steven Pienaar made for his country, before announcing his retirement in October of this year. The Everton midfielder gave the physical strains on his body, at 30, playing for club and country, as the reason for his decision.

537 - The number of minutes this season, between September 15 and November 7, that Sundowns went without scoring an Absa Premiership goal.

2 - The number of games won by Jomo Cosmos as they were relegated from the Absa Premiership,finishing eight points adrift at the bottom.

24 - The number of goals scored by Sundowns as they beat amateur side Powerlines 24-0 in a Nedbank Cup last 32 game in March, a South African record. Sundowns midfielder Hlompho Kekana scored seven times, and striker Nyasha Mushekwi grabbed six.

Quote of the year has to go to former Bafana, Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns coach Ted Dumitru, who claimed at the Soccerex Africa Forum in Durban in October that some had named him coach of the tournament at the 2006 African Nations Cup. Under Dumitru in Egypt, Bafana didn’t register a single point or a single goal. Nice try, Ted! At the end of June, Kaizer Chiefs took the bizarre step of unveiling defender Eric Matoho’s No3 jersey, before he had officially signed for the club. Luckily for them, Matoho did join, and has impressed since donning the gold and black of the Amakhosi! - The Star

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