The day Skopa embarrassed a boy five years his senior

Gift Mpho Sekgobela’s biggest memory of Skopa [Kopano Sekgobela] is certainly not one of his Polokwane City games.

It’s a game pitting his village Tjibeng and Skopa’s Ga-Phasha in rural Limpopo back in 2005. That was way before Skopa went Pro. He was just a 15-year-old boy playing for his dad’s team, Sekgobela Santos.

There was a fierce rivalry between those two neighbouring villages. Therefore, there was everything to play for.

“I only discovered we shared the same surname after the game,” Gift tells FARPost. “But he had made a fool out of me, the boy was just unmarkable.”

On the day, versatile Skopa played as a traditional number six, shielding the backline from all manner of attacks.

Not only did he break down opposition attacks, but he displayed an array of skills with so much arrogance, Gift, pictured below, says.

On the other hand, Gift, nicknamed Mhlongo after the gritty former Orlando Pirates star Benson, played as a centre back. He was thought to be tough-as-teak.

So they thought he’d be the man to deal with Skopa, who spearheaded opposition attacks from his deep lying position.

“So I moved to midfield with the sole aim being to deal with me. But the boy dealt with me instead, ha, ha, ha. I can’t even remember the number of shibobos he gave me on the day. He had this arrogance and fearlessness about him.”

It was embarrassing especially with fans from both villages watching and girls from Tjibeng who thought their Gift was the real deal.

Skopa bursts into laughter when FARPost asks him about that game. He recalls how Gift ended up being substituted.

“I had to fake cramps so that they took me out,” confesses Gift, who was five years Skopa’s senior.

After stitching the midfield together and helping his village win, Gift walked up to him after the game and asked him a weird question.

“He asked me where I train,” Skopa recalls.
Gift reveals it didn’t make sense that such a talented boy was training in the neighbouring village.

From that day, Gift says they would sometimes deliberately not invite the boys from Ga-Phasha because they were too good.

And so, Gift followed Skopa’s career until the 2012 accident that ended his playing career at just 23.

He has continued to follow his coaching of boys in his village and draws important lessons from his journey.

“The lesson for me is: whatever is happening around you, please just keep going. He started his own team. I’m so proud of him, he’s doing a marvelous job,” Gift says.

But that day in 2005 will forever remain etched on his mind.

RELATED STORY: Kopano Sekgobela: Wheelchair-bound but still defying the odds every day

By Mthokozisi Dube

Chilli Boys in Nedbank Cup final

Chippa United have reached the Nedbank Cup final after seeing off Pretoria Callies in their semi-final encounter at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.

Sandile Mthethwa netted to hand the Chilli Boys a 1-0 win.

Chippa are in their first ever final and will await the winner between Mamelodi Sundowns and Tshakhuma on Sunday.

HOW CALLIES AND CHIPPA LINED UP…

Callies: Lesu, Moloi, Moeketsi, Menziwa, Pheko, Nkoana, Twala, Sauls, Tladi, Marebane, Sithole.

SUBS: More, Mahlangu, Gumede, Rorwana, Natemba, Sebone, Sitayitayi, Buthelezi, Bopape.

Chippa: Watenga, Nsabiyumva, Mobbie, Mthethwa, Sangweni, Kwem, Lebitso, Phewa, Konqobe, Hanamub, Maloisane.

SUBS: Mtshali, Manyisa, Laffor, Mokhele, Nomandela, Jodwana, Eva Nga, Damons, Mdlinzo.

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Weekend preview: Mzansi footballers abroad

The majority of leagues across the globe are approaching their business end and some of South Africa’s exports will be looking to make some meaningful contributions at their respective clubs.

VALENCIENNESS vs EA GUINGAMP

SATURDAY 17 APRIL 2021

20:00 PM (SA TIME)

After getting his first 90 minutes since his return from injury, Lebogang Phiri will be eager to get more game time for Guingamp.

The French club has a big battle ahead of them as they look to avoid being relegated in the league. Guingamp currently sit in 18th with 31 points from 32 games.

AC MILAN vs NAPOLI

SUNDAY 18 APRIL 2021

12:30 PM (SA TIME)

The Italian Serie A returns after a long break and Banyana Banyana midfielder Refiloe Jane will be eager to continue where she left off in the last game where the Rossoneri defeated local rivals Inter Milan 4-1.

AC Milan are six points behind log leaders Juventus in the log standings and a win against Napoli will see them close the gap at the top.

SC BRAGA vs SL BENFICA

SUNDAY 18 APRIL 2021

19:00 PM (SA TIME)

Only three points separate the two sides in the Championship Play-off round and a win for either side will see them close the gap on log leaders Sporting Lisbon.

Benfica is a point behind Sporting while Braga needs four points to catch up to the Lisbon side.

Jermaine Seoposenwe has been a regular member of the starting line-up for Braga and after helping them win the Portuguese Cup, the midfielder is one of the key players in the side.

VARBERGS BOIS vs ELFSBORG

MONDAY 19 APRIL 2021

19:00 PM (SA TIME)

Having come on as a second half substitute against Mjallby last weekend, Luke Le Roux will be eager to get more game time under his belt for Varbergs.

Keanin Ayer, Tashreeq Matthews, Ryan Moon and Dean Solomons are all still ruled out of the game and will only be available for selection in next weekend’s game against Djurgaden IF.

RELATED ARTICLE: Weeekend preview: Mzansi footballers abroad

By Prince Sobayeni

We must finish the season on a high- Solskjaer

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants his players to use their Europa League success as motivation to finish the season well.

Manchester United reached the Europa League semi-finals after Edinson Cavani’s early strike and a Jesus Vallejo own goal secured a 2-0 home win over Granada, completing a 4-0 win on aggregate.

Solskjaer is looking to end the season on a high after United set-up a Europa League semi-final clash against AS Roma.

Marcus Rashford’s strike and a late Bruno Fernandes penalty in Granada last week put the Red Devils in firm control of their quarter-final tie against the European debutants.

They followed that up with another 2-0 win on Thursday, when Edinson Cavani’s early volley and a late Jesus Vallejo own goal sealed a 4-0 aggregate triumph and the club’s 18th continental semi-final.

Roma stand between Solskjaer’s side and the Gdansk finale. The semi-final tie brings back memories of United’s remarkable 8-3 aggregate victory against the Italian side in the 2007 Uefa Champions League quarter-finals.

Speaking after the game on Thursday, the Norwegian mentor said things can only get better from now on. Solskjaer is hoping to make it fifth time lucky after United fell short in four semi-finals between last season and the current one.

“Let’s hope so (to win). You know, when you get to a semi, that’s the nature of the game, you’re playing against good teams.

“We played against some good teams but we relish the chance again to go to a final. I’ve seen the determination, the attitude in every player that we want to go one further.

“The disappointment of the defeats that we’ve had, they give us the motivation to go one step further and hopefully end the season on a high.”

United return to Premier League action on Sunday after when they host Burnley at Old Trafford. They currently sit in second place on the log with 63 points from 31 games.

RELATED ARTICLE: Solskjaer’s son comes to his father’s defence

By Prince Sobayeni

FAZ confirms cancellation of friendly against Kenya

Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has confirmed the cancellation of the planned friendly game against the Harambee Starlets of Kenya.

The Copper Queens were due to face Kenya on April 24 in Lusaka.

But the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) cited a presidential order to suspend sports in the country as the reason why they could not honour the friendly invite.

“Following communication from the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) that their team has not been granted the green light to commence football activities by their government, the highly anticipated international friendly match between the Copper Queens and the Harambe Starlets has been cancelled,” FAZ announced on Saturday.

FAZ general-secretary Adrian Kashala revealed they have got a backup plan to help the team prepare for their upcoming duties.

Zambia will represent Africa at the Tokyo Olympic Games which starts on Friday 23 July and ends on Sunday 8 August.

RELATED STORY: What Banyana gained from the two friendlies

By Ofhani Munyai

Concerns over poor officiating directed to Safa

The frustration of poor officiating in South Africa has not gone unnoticed in the lower leagues, especially when it costs a team crucial points.

Though it has been a story of every match in the top flight football, in the ABC Motsepe KwaZulu-Natal League it has left many astonished and speechless.

With the second leg of the league already in motion a lot of teams have bemoaned poor refereeing, which has affected a lot of people involved in the beautiful game.

Milford FC coach Asanda Mvalo would rather focus on playing against the opponent and the officials, since he reckons it’s normal to witness poor officiating in the league.

“That’s not for me to say, at some point we were deprived of three clear penalties, players handling the ball in the box. Referees didn’t see that according to them they see nothing wrong with that, it’s normal for them.

“I am not gonna talk about them (match officials) because they know what they want, they know what they are doing that’s their job, if they do the right thing it’s up to them,” he said.

“But remember we need to be carefull in what we are doing because this is grassroots football, that’s where the national team should get players from,” added Mvalo.

Meanwhile, Durban FC goalkeeper Senzo Dludlu has called on football governing body in the country – the South African Football Association – to take lower leagues seriously, by acting on irregularities of officials.

“For South African football to develop and move forward, I think they need to stand up and put their house in order, because professional players start here.

“Since this (ABC Motsepe League) is a semi professional league anything goes, know one pays attention to how these action affect the teams,” said Dludlu.

Muzi King Masters coach Phelelani Mpangase,  whose goalkeeper almost got injured in a match sounded in a moment of despair, because he believes nothing will change.

“No one is trying to sort it out, our players are not protected on the field, but whenever we try to tell the officials about the fouls they give us red cards.

“I know it’s a man’s game but officials must protect our young players and their decisions must be fair,” said Mpangase.

By Wonga Sirayi

FARPost’s KZN Reporter

‘Foden will do his talking on the pitch’

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola has backed Phil Foden to do his talking on the pitch after a controversial tweet was posted by his social media company directed at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Kylian Mbappe.

Foden played a starring role in Man City’s Uefa Champions League quarterfinal victory over Borussia Dortmund, scoring the winning goal in both legs.

But the 20-year-old was reportedly angered after the company controlling his accounts posted a tweet reading: “@Kmbappe are you ready,” looking ahead to the semi-final against PSG.

It was posted just moments after Foden had left the pitch in Germany on Wednesday and later deleted with Foden parting ways with the company responsible.

The England midfielder is currently enjoying the best spell of his career and Guardiola talked up the academy graduate at his press conference on Friday.

“It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. It’s what we have to do today. Today everybody is involved, talking and social media, but you have to talk on the grass. It’s the only way,” said Guardiola.

“Everything we get right now is on the grass, not in any other situations. He’ll continue being there depending on his performance, not what he’s done so far at an early age.”

In their quadruple quest, the Runaway Premier League leaders Man City’s next challenge is Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at Wembley.

Guardiola said he will have no problem getting his side to re-focus after the emotional high of Wednesday’s victory.

He said: “It’s much, much easier. Imagine playing after not qualifying for the semifinal of the Champions League. It would be much tougher.

“Of course, I would love to have more days to enjoy our qualification, for recovery, and to prepare for the game, but the schedule is the schedule and when you are a contender in all competitions you have to handle this schedule.”

RELATED STORY: De Bruyne extends stay at Man City

By FARPost Reporter 

Buya Msuthu up for sale

There is another casualty in the ABC Motsepe League.

Buya Msuthu FC from North West is up for grabs.

An approximate price tag of + R350 000 is been put on the team as it is rumoured to be struggling.

Money seems to be an issue, this came after players downed tools due to unpaid salaries last week, as reported by FARPost.

Furthermore, players didn’t attend training sessions and ended up not honouring their fixture against Makapanstad Romans and lost the match with a walkover.

The side will be on standby this weekend.

RELATED STORY: Buya Msuthu players down tools

By Sharon Mochadibane

Mandzukic foregoes Milan salary for March

AC Milan striker Mario Mandzukic has foregone his salary for March after he did not make a single appearance for the club due to injury.

Mandzukic joined Milan in January on a six-month deal but ankle and muscle injuries have restricted him to just five appearances so far.

As a result, Mandzukic has asked the club for his wage contribution to instead be donated to the Milan Foundation.

“[It is] an incredible gesture, which shows Mario Mandzukic’s ethics and professionalism as well as his respect for Milan,” club president Paolo Scaroni said.

“This means the club will have the opportunity to continue to support the Milan Foundation’s projects which help the underprivileged youth, where sport works as instrument for social inclusion,”

The former Croatia international’s time at Milan is his second spell in Italy, having spent four seasons at Juventus, where he won Serie A on all four occasions and the Coppa Italia three times.

Prior to that, he was with Bayern Munich, where he won the 2013 Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and Champions League Treble and Atletico Madrid.

The 34-year-old was an integral part of the Croatia side which reached the 2018 World Cup final.

RELATED STORY: Will the Scudetto finally lands in Milan?

By Ofhani Munyai

USWNT working conditions settlement approved

The settlement between the United States of America women’s national team (USWNT) and the U.S. Soccer Federation concerning unequal working conditions was approved by a federal judge recently.

The ruling means USWNT will receive improvements to travelling conditions, venue selections, and increases in the number of support staff on par with the men’s national team.

However, the battle for equal pay continues as a few months ago, US district judge R Gary Klausner threw out the Equal Pay Act aspect of the planned lawsuit, ending the players’ chances of receiving back pay for previous performances.

This decision will be appealed before the case goes to court.

“Now that this is behind us, we intend to appeal the Court’s equal pay decision, which does not account for the fact that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” said team spokesman Molly Levinson.

“We are committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve and our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and our country.

“We are pleased that the Court has approved the equal working conditions that the USWNT players have fought for many years to achieve.

“Finally, giving these athletes access to facilities, training, care, and professional support is the next step needed in the long and hard work to grow the game of women’s football,” concluded Levinson.

RELATED STORY: USWNT appeal equal pay bid dismissal

BY FARPost Reporter