As I passed Siyabonga Sangweni in the corridor of the Bafana team hotel in Phokeng on Tuesday, I enquired quickly about his injured ankle.
“It’s sore,” came the Pirates defender’s reply. Sangweni is the type of hardened Premier Soccer League centre back one expects to be somewhat immune to pain, so when he says he hurts, you sit up and listen.
Even Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane admitted his concern earlier after Sangweni hobbled out of the morning training session. The results of an MRI scan are still pending as I write this, but my feeling is that this gentle giant is likely to miss Saturday’s Fifa World Cup 2014 qualifier against Ethiopia.
That would complete a tough week for Sangweni, who might have already had a sore heart after missing out on the PSL Footballer of the Year award on Sunday to Siyabonga Nomvethe. I have found this particular award, since its inception in 2008, and most of its winners, utterly bizarre.
It is supposed to be given to success across all competitions, yet Teko Modise picked it up in 2008 and 2009 when Orlando Pirates had won precisely nothing. Then the Buccaneers do the treble for two successive seasons, and not one of their players wins the award!
Nomvethe, like his predecessor Thulani Serero, had a fantastic season in the Absa Premiership, netting 20 goals and deservedly won the league’s player of the season award. But Sangweni excelled across the board in his debut season at the Buccaneers, netting vital goals and performing heroically at the back, as they lifted the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and Absa Premiership titles. He even cemented his place as a regular in the Bafana Bafana side.
It is tempting to ask what more one man has to do to win this award, which is increasingly becoming a total farce. The 16 PSL coaches vote for the Footballer-of-the-Year and either they are not aware of the proper criteria, or they have come to a very odd conclusion. Apart from his 20 league goals, Nomvethe did get one as Swallows thrashed Sundowns 3-0 in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout.
Pirates, by contrast, won the MTN8, Sangweni scoring the winner in the first round against Santos. They won the Telkom Knockout, with Sangweni playing every match and again netting a key goal, against Golden Arrows in the semifinal. And, of course, they won the Absa Premiership.
Even in the Nedbank Cup, when they were beaten in the last 16 by Free State Stars, whose goal saved them with a 1-0 win in the last 32 against Ethekwini Coastal Utd? – Sangweni’s. It’s daylight robbery! – The Star