1 The African Safari Award: Orlando Pirates
The Buccaneers captured the imagination of the nation with their gutsy displays on their way to the African Champions League final. Pirates beat some of the continent’s top sides, including the likes of TP Mazembe of the DR Congo and Esperance of Tunisia. They also showed that pampered South African footballers can adapt to bumpy pitches, dodgy food and smelly hotels.
2 The Disco Inferno Award: Al-Ahly supporters
Orlando Pirates paid the price in the second leg of their final against Al Ahly after terrible finishing in front of goal. But maybe it was the result of being blinded by the plethora of green lasers that were pointed at their faces by the partisan crowd. The green lasers are a favourite weapon of north African football fans, and maybe we Africans at the southern point of the continent should come up with something other than the vuvuzela to try and win the Champions League.
3 The Lifetime Achievement Award: Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson bowed out of football with another Premier League winner’s medal. And the gum-chewing, referee-bashing Scot will probably rate it among his very best achievements, after wresting back the title from big-spending neighbours Manchester City with an average side. It was the icing on the cake of a magnificent career, which saw him win 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies. However, we are probably going to miss his personality the most, especially as his successor David Moyes has the character of a doorstop.
4 The Double Impact Award: Stuart Baxter
Kaizer Chiefs were written off at the start of the season after the appointment of Baxter as their new coach. However, the Englishman took Amakhosi back to the top of Mzansi’s pile by winning the league and cup double. Baxter transformed Chiefs from an inconsistent mess, to a team who played at a very high level throughout their campaign. He also transformed their attack into a potent force, with Chiefs’ quick and accurate transition from defence to attack their main weapon during “Operation Reclaiming the Glory”.
5 The Me, Myself and I Award: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The stargazers at Nasa are currently investigating if Zlatan’s ego is big enough to be declared a planet. Zlatan is frequently talking about himself in the third person, and we have heard some cracking quotes from the Swedish hitman this year. “Only God knows ... You’re talking to him now.” That was Zlatan’s response when asked how Sweden would do in their World Cup playoff matches against Portugal.
6 Upset of the Year Award: Bafana Bafana
Before South Africa’s clash against Spain, everybody looked at the record books to check the highest scores in a football match. However, after a shaky opening stanza when it looked like the Spanish were indeed going to run riot, Bafana matched the masters of the “tika-taka” pass-for-pass. Bernard Parker then finished smartly, giving Bafana one of their greatest victories since 1992. But the win doesn’t make up for the fact that the national team bowed out in the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations on home soil and then failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
7 Celebration(s) of the Year: Platinum Stars
The Rustenburg’s side goal celebrations have almost been as good as their performances on the pitch. Stars’ celebrations are almost choreographed, and they execute their dance moves with military precision. The team had more reasons to dance this year after winning two cups and a runner-up spot in the league. Something good is happing at Platinum Stars. So expect more jiving in 2014.
8 Player of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo
This man doesn’t seem to know the meaning of enough. Ronaldo has scored more goals than he has made appearances this season, and some of his strikes have been simply breathtaking. His rivalry with Lionel Messi is one of the greatest in the history of the sport, and for a long time Ronaldo has played second fiddle to Messi.
But this year, and especially in the second half of 2013, he has eclipsed Messi with his dazzling displays.
9 Team of the Year: Bayern Munich
The beer flowed merrily after Bayern ended off the previous season with a magnificent treble of titles.
The highlight was obviously their run to the Champions League trophy, whipping the much-fancied Barcelona on the way. It was hard to imagine that this Bayern side could get any better, but with new coach Pep Guardiola at the helm, it seems they will again be fighting for every available piece of silverware next year.
10 Goal of the Year: Antonio Di Natale (Udinise v AC Chievo Verona)
We have seen lots of magnificent long-range efforts this season, but Di Natale’s first-time strike against AC Chievo Veron showcased his awareness and a technical ability. After the ball was floated over to him on the left he hit it back past the goalkeeper on the volley with lots of power. Goal Sir!
2014 WISH LIST
1 For Bafana to end their trophy drought in next’s month’s Chan tournament.
2 For the PSL and Safa to agree to the postponement of league fixtures in January so that Gordon Igesund can play a strong side in the Chan.
3 For all referees around the world to get their eyes tested.
4 For three Cape teams in the PSL next season.
5 For the World Cup in Brazil to be a success and that the supporters Samba though the nights.