ON THIS DAY: The infamous handball that stopped an African dream

On this day in 2010, BaGhana BaGhana as they were nicknamed by South Africans were seconds away from making history by becoming the first African country to qualify for the FIFA World Cup semi-finals.

But DRAMA happened… during the match against Uruguay which took place at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) on a Friday, 2 July 2010.

Ghana took the lead through a Sulley Muntari long range shot on the stroke of half time.

But the South Americans responded through a stunner of a free kick by their captain Diego Forlan to take the match to extra-time.

The moment of madness took place in the last minutes of extra time as Ghana sent a free kick into the penalty area but Luis Suarez blocked Stephen Appiah’s shot on the goal line.

On the rebound, Dominic Adiyiah’s header was heading into the goal, but Suarez blatantly blocked the shot with his hands to save what would have been the extra-time winner which resulted in him being red carded.

But striker Asamoah Gyan missed the ensuing penalty kick hitting the crossbar resulting in the match going to penalties which Uruguay ended wining 4-2.

After the game, Suarez said, “I made the save of the tournament,” and, referring to the infamous handball goal scored by Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup, claimed that “The ‘Hand of God’ now belongs to me”.

Suarez claimed he had no alternative and was acting out of instinct. The incident still hurts many Africans to date.

RELATED STORY: Chiellini admires Luis Suarez for biting him at World Cup

By Ofhani Munyai

Cape Town City back at training

PSL side Cape Town City have confirmed they are now allowed to train.

Like all the PSL teams, the ‘Citizens’ were forced to halt operations, including training after the Coronavirus outbreak around the world in March.

The Western Cape is one of the hotspots of the disease in SA, but Cape Town City have done everything possible to ensure they are one of the PSL sides to return to work in preparation for the resumption of the League.

“The club has received clearance to commence full training, in accordance with Return to Training Directive. Congrats to management who have worked around the clock to ensure we are one of the first PSL clubs to be fully COVID compliant,” said Cape Town City in a statement.

More PSL clubs are expected to follow suit.

RELATED STORY: How Cape Town City dazzled under Benni McCarthy

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Baroka star sad to leave

Baroka have decided against giving a 2-month contracts extension to midfielder Collins Makgaka and striker Prince Nxumalo after their contracts came to an end.

The pair officially parted ways with Bakgaga on Tuesday, 30 June and will now not be able to register with any club until the current season concludes.

Makgaga who began his professional career at the Limpopo side has expressed his disappointment on not being able to agree on at least a short tem deal until the end of the season.

“Yes I would have loved to stay at the club (until the end of season) but since things went the other way it is still okay,” he said.

“It is so sad to leave the team that made me who I am because this is a team that took me from the amateur level to where I am so today I am this player because of them. I would like to thank the Chairman Mr. (Khurishi) Mphahlele for giving me an opportunity to play in the professional level because it is not anyone who can give you that chance so I really appreciate that and grateful for that opportunity.”

“We spoke (with Khurishi Mphahlele) and I think we didn’t have an agreement so that’s when we decided not to extend but we spoke about my contract coming to an end and I think I was not in the plans for them to play me for the remaining matches,” added the 24-year-old.

The fan favorite says nothing concrete has come on the table for him as yet.

Since joining the club while they were campaigning in the GladAfrica Championship in 2015, Makgaga has played 70 matches netting 5 goals.

RELATED STORY: Baroka extend yet another players’ contract

By Ofhani Munyai

Foster back for Monaco pre-season

With his loan spell finished at Belgian Pro League side Cercle Brugge, South African striker Lyle Foster has returned to his parent club AS Monaco in France as they start pre-season.

Foster signed a long term contract with AS Monaco in January 2019 from Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and within six months of his arrival he was already promoted to the club’s first team for the 2019/20 season.

He even made his senior debut before being loaned out to affiliate club Cercle Brugge in Belgium.

In 18 appearances in the Belgian Pro League Foster scored one goal and assisted a further strike while playing mostly as a winger.

It remains to be seen where the teenager will be playing next season.

But for now he will be working hard to show coach Roberto Moreno that he is worthy of being included in the Monaco squad for the 2020/21 season.

RELATED STORY: Foster nominated for 2020 Golden boy award

By Prince Sobayeni 

Seoposenwe leaves Real Betis

Banyana Banyana attacking midfielder Jermaine Seoposenwe has left Spanish La Liga side Real Betis after her deal was not extended.

The 26-year-old had signed for the Spanish club in February on an initial 6-month-deal with an option to extend further.

But it seems the club has opted against exercising that option.

The SA international will be looking for the next chapter in her career towards the start of the 2020/21 season – all the best.

“Yesterday was officially my last day as a Real Betis player. I want to thank Betis for the opportunity, I sincerely appreciate it. I wish the club nothing but the best.

“Onto the next chapter of this book called LIFE I go,” she tweeted.

RELATED STORY: NEW DEAL: Banyana star renews Milan contract

By Prince Sobayeni

Jabu Maluleke: The leader whose actions shout out the instructions

Jabulani Maluleke is by no means a larger-than-life shouter nor screamer, but he sure inspires his teammates in numerous other ways.

Unsurprisingly, he’s become used to people fretting over whether his quiet, somewhat introverted, nature is ideally suited to captaining a topflight club.

But ‘King Mavotjie’ always has an answer for that question. An apt one for that matter.

“Talk is cheap, but when you go out there and prove it – you’re the first one to show up for training, and you’re the last to leave – that’s how you lead by example,” the Polokwane City skipper explains his charming philosophy.

Interestingly, his childhood friend, Tintswalo Tshabalala, is quick to admit he had reservations the first time Maluleke was appointed captain. The former Platinum Stars utility player, Tshabalala, has known the Soweto-born playmaker for over 30 years. The two were together at Chiawelo Arsenal, an amateur side in their neighbourhood in Soweto, after Maluleke surprisingly failed to make the grade at Orlando Pirates and Wits development sides.

“I was shocked the first time he was made captain. I asked myself how he would talk to everyone because he’s a man of a few words,” admits Tshabalala, who spent five seasons with Dikwena.

Rightly so, Maluleke is not built from the same mould as Itumeleng Khune or your typical Benson Mhlongo.

But his Polokwane City coach Clinton Larsen wouldn’t have it any other way. He is happy with him just walking the talk. Undeniably, the phrase ‘lead by example’ is tamely cliché but, in so many ways, Maluleke does.

Disciplined, loyal to the core, a consummate team leader, mentally strong and self-confident. He comes fortified with that inimitable blend of qualities.

For those who still wonder whether his nature precludes him from being an inspirational captain, a four-word answer further suffices: assist king par-excellence. Just last season, his sixth with Polokwane City, aged 37, he scored 4 goals and made 9 assists in 28 matches.

“Playing number 10 gives me freedom. I like to be in charge on the field of play,” says Maluleke, who started off his career as the traditional number 7.

Now 38, the man, arguably one of the PSL’s best passers of the ball, is fast etching his name in football’s old masters who managed to beat the clock and are still going strong despite making their debut in the early 2000s.

While at it – even at the tail end of his fourth decade – he is still one of the first names on the team sheet at ‘Rise and Shine’, a team he helped to a record fifth-place finish last season.

“He’s a different type of a leader. He’s got a calming effect on the team, never fazed by anything that’s going on. He’s always in control of the situation,” Larsen says.

And while getting in control of things, he is not the type to impose his personality on a team. Neither does he go all-out to be the dominant character in a group.

Which means, essentially, that he is a decent, grounded bloke who does not suffer from the megalomaniac tendencies that seem to grip so many modern soccer stars.

“He is a grounded young man. That, he’s always been. I’m a proud father because the same way he’s always respected me is exactly what I see him do with humility to other people,” his dad, Fannie Maluleke, says.

The first man to appoint him captain, Norman ‘Panga’ Mokwebo, who ran Chiawelo Arsenal in the late ’90s also couldn’t be bothered by his diffidence. In his eyes, he possesses several qualities that make him fit the bill for the captaincy.

“He was exemplary, disciplined, always punctual for training and very respectful,” Mokwebo says.

That is where he scores as a captain: he is ever setting the perfect example. Granted, he may not be vocal, but his actions shout out the instructions.

Beautifully so, there is an aura about him on the pitch and that is why Larsen stuck to him as skipper when he took over at City 6 months ago without any second thoughts.

“His discipline does the talking for him. His performances do the talking for him and it’s up to the rest of the squad to follow,” says Larsen, who has been coaching in the PSL for just over a decade.

Again, Maluleke has had quite the journey in football. He made his PSL debut back in the 2002/2003 season while in the books of Dynamos and went on to play for Black Leopards, SuperSport United and now City. After a massive 343 PSL appearances, he is still going strong.

Of course, it has not been all rosy. “My time with Dynamos was difficult, things didn’t work out but that’s football. I learnt a few important lessons,” says the lanky midfielder.

Jacob Sakala recalls the opposition he faced as he tried giving Maluleke a second shot at professional football after his botched stint with Dynamos. “I picked Jabu Maluleke from Chiawelo and took him to Dangerous Darkies. I then went with him to Black Leopards,” the veteran coach says.

At Leopards, the Limpopo club’s supremo David Thidiela was just not convinced, at least, at first sight. “I played the boy by force and assured Thidiela he would eventually see what I was seeing,” Sakala adds.

Straight after watching Maluleke, Sakala remembers how an impressed Thidiela gave him R100.

As his flair and artistry continued to set him apart in the topflight, Thidiela smiled to the bank after fetching R3 million from selling him to SuperSport United.

“Winning the League with SuperSport was such a huge thing for me. I’ll forever cherish that,” says Maluleke, who went on to win two back-to-back titles with Matsatsantsa in 2008/09 and 2009/10. He spent five seasons with the Tshwane side.

Still, the Polokwane City skipper isn’t quite ready to call time on his career and vows to rack up his club career appearances for a few more years. He has played over 184 matches for the Polokwane outfit across all competitions. “I’m fresh, I feel like a youngster. I still feel so strong, I haven’t even thought about retiring,” the midfield maestro declares.

The talented playmaker reveals he has not changed too many things over the course of his career. Perhaps he is simply “lucky with the genes”.

“As an 18-year-old going into the professional game, you don’t really think about one day becoming the ‘oldest player in the PSL’. All you can do is look after yourself,” Maluleke says, before politely requesting to end the 30-minute telephonic interview to go and do his personal training. Such is his self-mastery.

But his boon companion Tshabalala knows Maluleke’s magical formula for longevity.

“He’s so disciplined, and very focused, he won’t touch alcohol, he won’t smoke cigarettes and doesn’t go clubbing. He takes his fitness seriously,” says Tshabalala as he reiterates what everyone else says.

Interestingly, his own father never imagined he would make it beyond 35 when he first watched him at 16 while playing for Chiawelo Arsenal.

“I thought he would stop at about 35, but he keeps going. My friends used to tell me about his talent until I went to the Godfrey Moloi Goodwill Games with his mother to watch him. We overheard some boys saying his opponents had to kick him because he was too good. His mother wanted to reply them, but I told her to keep quiet,” Maluleke Senior recalls.

Larsen concludes his captain’s extraordinary fortitude is all thanks to discipline.

“It’s down to his lifestyle, how he carries himself off the field. He really looks after himself well, which is so important. If you want to give your career longevity you’ve got to look after yourself and Jabu is a great example to the young players,” Larsen says.

That’s Maluleke’s philosophy to the captaincy: no nonsense, no drama, no fuss and no entitlements. Just serving as the perfect example.

RELATED STORY: Hlompho Kekana: The boy Sir Alex Ferguson admired

By Mthokozisi Dube

Soul-searching: Ertz, Short say anthem moment was difficult 

Chicago Red Stars teammates Julie Ertz and Casey Short say hard conversations over the past several weeks led to their vulnerability in the moment they shared an emotional embrace while they knelt during the national anthem as the NWSL opened its season.

Short sobbed as she was held by Ertz before Chicago’s match against the Washington Spirit on Saturday night, the second game of the National Women’s Soccer League tournament in Utah.

“Currently, every time the national anthem is played, our country continues to become more and more divided on what the visual symbol of unity looks like,” Ertz and Short said in a joint statement they released Tuesday.

“Through our continuous conversations we wanted to make sure that whatever we decided to do, it would not be an empty gesture.” Picture: AP.

“It would be a gesture that portrayed that we have heard those who needed to be heard, validated and loved.

“That moment during the anthem was difficult, very difficult. We are still searching but we are humbled by the outpouring of support.”

Short was not made available for comment after the match, so the context of the moment wasn’t known. Teammate Rachel Hill, who stood during the anthem and put a hand on Short’s shoulder, also was not made available for comment following the game.

“The two of us have always set out to be our honest and true selves, but have struggled to find the “right” thing to do in order to show our truth. We understand people are entitled to their opinions. Often these opinions are presented through the individual’s lens and do not accurately portray how the two of us truly feel,” Short and Ertz said.

Players for the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage collectively knelt during the national anthem Saturday as they opened the Challenge Cup tournament. A few players chose to stand as the anthem was played before the late game between the Red Stars and Spirit.

Picture: AP

While it is customary that only starters are on the field during the anthem, the entire squads for the four teams that played Tuesday took the field before their games. Most, but not all, knelt.

Players and coaches have also worn Black Lives Matter T-shirts in warmups before games, and players have also knelt during a moment of silence before kickoffs.

The NWSL players association released a statement in support of all players, no matter their decision.

“The Players Association supports both making a clear statement that Black Lives Matter and each player making a personal decision around whether to stand or kneel during the national anthem,” the union said.

“We ask that our supporters and media respect each player’s right to handle these moments in the way that they choose and know that our players are united against racism and in support of one another.”

After some players were criticized, the league announced Monday that it would allow players to remain in the locker room during the anthem.

“The NWSL stands behind every player, official and staff member. Kneel on the field. Stand with your hand over your heart. Honour your feelings in the privacy of the locker room or at midfield,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement announcing the policy change.

“The NWSL is a league that was built on diversity and courage and those principles will continue to drive us forward.”

The NWSL is the first professional team sports league in the United States to return amid the coronavirus pandemic. The teams had gathered for training camps in March when the league was shut down.

The tournament opener between the Thorns and the Courage was broadcast nationally on CBS and the network announced Tuesday that the game averaged 572,000 viewers, a record for the NWSL.

RELATED STORY: NWSL players kneel in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement


Mnyamane leaves SuperSport United

SuperSport United have confirmed that Thabo Mnyamane has left the club.

“We will always cherish the moments and success we have shared together and commend him for the contribution he has done for the club on and off the field,” says coach Kaitano Tembo.

The 27-year-old had been with ‘Matsatsantsa’ since 2016 having joined from University of Pretoria.

But it was clear he wouldn’t be staying especially with his contract running out and having played just 3 matches throughout the 2019/20 campaign.

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Mammila returns to his old club

Morgan Mammila has left the GladAfrica Championship to return to the Premier Soccer League.

He was until recently the CEO of GladAfrica Championship side, Royal Eagles.

Mammila has now returned to Chippa United as General Manager. He was previously CEO of the Chilli Boys.

In the past, Mammila also worked at Limpopo club, Baroka, where he was part of their Telkom Knockout success a couple of years ago.

By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Hunt: I know the nature of the beast, suitcase always at the front door

In South African football, coaches come and go with ruthless club owners pulling the trigger without seemingly thinking twice.

“I know the nature of the beast. The suitcase is always at the front door.

These are the words of the acclaimed coach Gavin Hunt, who has revealed that he hasn’t received any offer regarding a coaching gig for next season despite being linked with a number of Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs.

Several weeks ago, GladAfrica Championship side TTM acquired the PSL status of Wits and made it public knowledge that they cannot afford the services of Hunt.

“I’ve done every pre-season since 1981. This might be the first time I miss it… already I’m going mad. Obviously, I’m from Cape Town but I have lived in Gauteng for 22 years. I’m now more of a Joburger,” said Hunt on SAFM Sport On programme.

“I don’t like it when my name gets thrown around and gets linked with clubs that have coaches. Obviously, I would still like to be coaching next season,” – Hunt. Picture: Bidvest Wits. 

“I have nothing on the table at the moment. It’s also embarrassing what TTM said about me because they didn’t even talk to me.”

TTM stated that the status of Wits came as a package with the players under the new Limpopo ownership and according to Hunt, a number of his Wits stars will be leaving the club at the end of the current campaign.

“I don’t want to put it in public about the moves some of my players have made. But players have to think about their livelihoods. There are not too many big opportunities in SA when it comes to money and playing. To get the balance right is not easy,” said the Wits mentor.

“But I spoke to every player and wished them well. When you have a guy that’s 28 or 29, obviously he needs to look after his future and those types of things. But he needs to play football as well,” – Hunt.

“I’m not worried about how players will perform after what’s happened over the last few weeks. I always tell the players that you’re in the shop window every day that you play. There’s always somebody watching you. The players that have deals, can help those without deals,” concluded the former SuperSport United coach.

RELATED STORY: TTM buy Bidvest Wits

By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi