Durban Premier League fans rev up old rivalries
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Fasten your seatbelts ‒ it’s going to be a bumpy ride as the English Premier League kicked off last week, and local fans are looking forward to one of the most competitive leagues in years.
Durban comedian Carvin Goldstone, an Arsenal fan, has a Football Fan Show on radio on Saturdays at 11am to get fans in the mood for the big weekend matches.
He believes Manchester City is most likely to do it again. “If they sign Harry Kane from Spurs that will be the end of it for everyone else,” he says. “Although Chelsea could push them to the end ‒ both have really good coaches.”
The Independent on Saturday spoke to fans about why their team would come out tops. As is traditional the real rivalry in the city is between the two big red clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Durban electrician Farouk Sallie has been an ardent Liverpool supporter his whole life. Three years ago he went to Anfield, describing it as “exhilarating”.
“To experience Anfield was mind blowing. You’ve seen it on TV, but when they sang You’ll Never Walk Alone, I was blown away. I had goosebumps and a tear in my eye,” he says.
He also followed his team to the Club World Cup in Doha in 2019 which Liverpool won.
The season started with a bang with a 3-0 victory over Norwich and he believes Liverpool can go all the way.
”We will be in the top four, but we can win it. Jurgen Klopp has kept faith in our players. We have the fab four up front ‒ Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane ‒ not forgetting Virgil van Dijk in defence. They’re formidable.
“People are raving about how much Manchester City has spent, with Liverpool buying just one player, but we have the team that can go far like we did two seasons ago.”
Sallie sees Chelsea as the nearest rivals in the league.
His love of Liverpool stemmed from it being the first team he saw play, plus he always liked the colour red. “It gripped me and I liked their style of play. As a youngster the Premier League was something I couldn’t miss. And today at 62 I still sit back in my Liverpool T-shirt and say wow.”
He loves the competitiveness of the league. He also loves the banter and rivalry between team supporters.
Puvendra Akkiah of the local Manchester United Supporters Club believes his team has what it takes to go from number two to number one this year.
“Last year we could have done better,” he says. “There were some positives, but we had a very slow start and much would need to be done this year.
“Bolstering the squad with England player Tom Heaton, and Bundesliga sensation (Jadon) Sancho and French superstar (Raphael) Varane brings a sense of positivity to the club that we can and will be a serious title contender come April. Coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a tough task choosing his attacking options with a plethora of talent.”
He believes this year’s premiership is a three-horse race among United, City and Chelsea, with Liverpool, Leicester and possibly Tottenham Hotspur fighting over fourth.
IT product developer Roman Kistensamy was instrumental in the establishment of the Arsenal supporters club in Durban. He became a Gunners fan in the era of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp.
“Bergkamp was a huge role model for me. They played beautiful soccer and everyone else was supporting Manchester United and Liverpool and I didn’t want to follow in their footsteps.”
And he’s stuck with his team through thick and, increasingly, thin, saying last season was a “shambles”.
“With Arsenal, realistically, I want them to finish strong but I don’t see them challenging for the top four positions. It would be a stretch. But we are trying to rebuild with the club out of Europe. If we are lucky we get a Europa league place at around six or seven. There’s also the FA Cup. We need to play our way back into Europe.”
He thinks Manchester City are the strongest contenders.
Lifelong Manchester City fan Nathan Venter believes his team will win back-to-back titles. But the Joburg-born fan is under no illusion of the challenge ahead.
“I have been a City fan for far too long to expect anything, especially back-to-back league titles. But I would like to see us compete for all four trophies again this year,” said Venter.
Venter is wary of his team’s rivals. “I reckon Chelsea will be excellent value given their recruits and Thomas Tuchel having a full pre-season. That man is a wizard and has the measure of (City manager) Pep (Guardiola),” he said.
Die-hard Chelsea FC fan Leesharn Rose expects another strong season from her team. Finishing fourth in the league last season, and winning the Champions League, Rose from Cape Town expects her team to build on last season’s success.
“I have to say that since Thomas Tuchel arrived in January it’s been nothing but pure joy being a Chelsea fan,” said Rose. “Each game I look forward to as we witness an organised and hungrier Chelsea than what we saw under Frank Lampard.”
The Independent on Saturday