CAPE TOWN - The PSL regularly leaves me baffled and exasperated. How is it that an organisation can so often delight and anger in equal measures with the manner in which it goes about its business?
One day it wears a face that has it blundering around comically and aimlessly in the dark, and the next it slaps on a countenance that reveals the full extent of its supreme professional and organisational capacity. There is so much that is good and positive about South African football and yet, somehow or other, the negative is always accentuated.
The weekend’s Nedbank Cup final at Cape Town Stadium was an example of how, when all the stakeholders work together towards one common goal, the success of an event is guaranteed.
The climax of this competition was thrown into jeopardy because two lesser-known clubs - Free State Stars and Maritzburg United - had made their way to the final. The people won’t come, it’s going to be a big disappointment, they said. Not so. Close to 20 000 people turned up - and not only did the event run smoothly, not only did the two teams produce a absorbing football match, but, more importantly, the fans cheered and jived to make it an occasion to savour.
And, yet, this is the same PSL that drags its feet on issues of crowd trouble, only really getting into gear when things got hopelessly out of control during a semi-final clash in Durban last month. This is the same PSL currently involved in a series of arbitration hearings and court cases that has, again, severely damaged the reputation of the game in SA.
This is the same PSL responsible for the perception of bias that regularly reverberates around football discussion. This is the same PSL where, dare it be said, the biggest problem is that, unless club bosses stop policing themselves, the status quo will continue.
This is the same PSL that runs on the different strokes for different folks policy, in that some clubs are more important than others. These are the two schizophrenic faces of football which fans, sponsors and the media have to deal with on a daily basis.
But, back to that fantastic Cup final, it was a deserved win for Stars; their ability to handle the pressure of the occasion was the secret to their triumph. Each and every Stars player deserves credit, not just for their hard work but also for the composed and intelligent way in which they went about their business. In Luc Eymael, they have a coach, who, despite his brashness, has had a major impact at the club.
As for Maritzburg, they have been one of the more exciting teams this season. They have some really promising young players - and you’d better remember: Lebogang Maboe, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Pogiso Sanoka, to name a few - you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in the future.
Finally, as a Capetonian, it would be remiss of me not to finish with a word of praise for the work Maritzburg coach Fadlu Davids has done. He’s just 37-years-old, from Surrey Estate, but already one of the more promising young football thinkers in the PSL.
Not just that, though, it’s the humble way he carries himself, his refusal to point fingers of blame for defeat, his calm, unruffled presence in the face of pressure, the admiration and respect he has for the players under his care, and his astute, tactical brain all of this, make him a coach with a really bright future. As Capetonians, we should be proud to call Davids one of our own.