Fair play is high on FIFAs agenda as usual, but when I was national coach here I got the feeling that all FIFA wanted from Africa were the results. The conditions some games took place under, safety and almost scandalous lack of consistency in implementing the rules give rise to great concern and even talk of conspiracy theories and corruption. This week saw Senegals Afcon qualifier versus Ivory Coast abandoned due to crowd invasion where players and fans were literally smuggled from the stadium by the military. This sort of occurrence is often close to hand but the governing bodies here make no progress in addressing it. Lots of people have built small empires in the chaos and even if this tragedy is the side effect they are still going to block any effort to become better organised and transparent. Sad ,very sad and a block on true African football development.
Here we have faced similar issues this week , as I said last week we have six players away with Bafana Bafana who will return on Wednesday afternoon ( we also have two Zimbabwean internationals on the same schedule) therefore when the draw for the cup was made we were expecting a weekend or Monday match start . Common sense would say that as we are the largest provider of players to the National team we could expect some time to prepare together.
No!!! We play the Friday game whilst clubs with no national players play on Monday. Our appeal fell on deaf ears so we get 24hrs together before playing an important cup game with players who have played two games in 5-days and have travelled half way round the World. It really becomes difficult to take the governing bodies seriously but when you consider that other club owners (our opponents) sit on the boards of these bodies then it becomes easier to understand. This sort of thing happens often and in the continental Africa gets worse, but people become used to it and the strangle hold remains.
We played our last game in Port Elizabeth and drew 0-0. We were a bit flat, for whatever reason, and Celtics parked the bus and played long to two fast forwards. We could of won it but on reflection didn’t really show enough quality or smart movement to pick our way through their two tight lines of four. I think we will have to get used to this scenario so don’t get frustrated, just get better.
As I said above, our next game is on Friday in the cup and then we finish the first quarter with an away game against a strong Maritzburg team coached by a German, Ernst Mittendorp, so hopefully we can get back our momentum despite the poor preparation. This quarter thing is an idea to provide incentives for clubs through to the last game and we have already won it as we lead by four points going into the final game of the quarter. We get about 1.4 million crowns for winning it and the fans are really pleased with this mini success. They have waited for years to brag a little and they are not shy about doing it.” Bringing back the glory” is a slogan that has been thrown out and they are very vocal at the moment. I had two supporters who asked me if they could have a photo with me yesterday. Not unusual you might say? but I was going to the toilet at the time at a petrol station!!!!
I did a television show the other night and after arriving and getting plastered with make up, getting old, they told me that it would be very nice if I could explain our tactical planning for the next thirty minutes as they had prepared film of our games…….my answer was something like ”do you like sex? Do you like travel?……”. Well why don’t you just f**k off!
I am getting a lot calmer working in S.A……..not!
Enjoy the exciting run in to Allsvenskan and go well .
Yours in sport,