Form Guide: (Afcon Results): Equatorial Guinea DDW
January 17th: Equatorial Guinea 1 – 1 Congo
January 21st: Equatorial Guinea 0 – 0 Burkina Faso
January 25th: Gabon 0 – 2 Equatorial Guinea
The Grand Stand Prediction:
As we enter the business end of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, its time for the gaffers to earn their money and for the players to cement their legacies. The African Cup of Nations is a platform where the stars of African football are born; we have entered a stage where national heroes are made from a run of inspiring performances or a match-winning game or two.
The Eagles of Carthage have made it into the knockout stage off the back of solid defensive performances that kept all their games within their control, yet they will need to develop a more ruthless offensive streak to their game if they are to dominate games and progress even further in this competition. Their solid and hard to penetrate defence has laid the perfect foundation for them to elevate their game and make a great run into the final, yet that is easier said than done; Tunisia can make great inroads towards winning the prized crown of African football by adding a more complete dynamic to their game.
Equatorial Guinea are a nation riding high off a newfound level of self-belief and an a amazing display of national unity; the National Thunder have played some inspiring football and the sense of pride they have instilled into their adoring supporters has been marvelous to watch. The fact that a side filled with lads that were born in Spain yet bleed the red of Equatorial Guinea is a story we will be able to relay to our grandchildren in years to come; the standard of African football will only continue to elevate after more nations begin to make full use of the recourse of talent that they have at their disposal. The Equatoguinean fairytale has been one worth watching, and we will be blessed to see it run for a few more chapter yet as their enterprising play has been a delight in this competition; they have the firepower and the 12th man backing to ensure that we have an enthralling and entertaining encounter on our hands.
After a tournament filled with some entertaining draws, some dire one’s and a few smash-and-grab victories; the 30th edition of the African Cup of Nations has reached the knock-out stage, and we are fortunate to kick it all off with a mouthwatering clash between two nations with no love lost between them. This Central African derby will be the 1st clash between the two sides in 41 years, we anticipate an entertaining and open clash where both sides will go all out to ensure their progress into the semi-final and maintain their shot at being Africa’s kings.
Congo come into this encounter having shocked the continent, and maybe themselves, by exceeding their expectations and topping Group A and remaining unbeaten throughout; considering how they are yet to hit their 4th gear, they should be considered on of the dark horses for a final berth. Congo have the offensive prowess to blow away many a side when they are in full flow, the derby clash against the DR Congo could be the incentive they need to kick it up a notch or two and play at the level they did in many of their qualifying encounters where they were mesmerizing to watch at times.
The DR Congo have got into the quarter-finals without winning a single game, they will need to up the ante if they are to ride their luck and progress even further in the knock-out stages. Being without midfield general and skipper Yussuf Mulumbu for the second successive game, they will need the more experienced campaigners in their side to step up and ensure that the side plays at the level one needs to be at if they want to win an African Cup of Nations title. Chancel Mbemba Mangulu will have to show his quality and ensure that the absence of his skipper and midfield partner Mulumbu is not telling for his side; The Leopards will have to support their talisman Yannick Bolasie a lot better if they harbor any chance of finally winning a clash in this 30th edition of Africa’s grandest football spectacle.
Yesterday marked the close of South African football’s January transfer window, by the time you read this the PSL office will have been flooded with uncountable faxes, e-mails, calls and visits from endless club representatives that were there on a mission to push last minute deals through for their clubs. PSL General Manager Derek Blanckensee will be a man that needs to ice his wrist and have a couple of drinks on the house for ensuring that those deals had been processed and signed off even after the 17:00 deadline.
With all due respect to the gaffer’s that identify the areas for improvement in the side, the scouts that source talent to suit those shortlists and add quality to the squad, the technical directors and directors of football that negotiate the deals and the player representatives and agents that convince the players to sign on the dotted line; Mzansi Diski has adopted short-sighted vision when it comes to conducting player transfers and its an issue that needs addressing if we are to move forward as a fraternity. Many clubs are eager to delve into the market and acquire more seasoned professionals to add depth and quality to their sides, more often than not, those transfers would lessen the playing opportunities for a talented young lad to establish himself as an elite level professional; our young lads will continue to fall off the radar or become late bloomers after years in the football wilderness if they aren’t groomed to become fixtures in the first team at a younger age, something that only occurs at a few South African football sides.
SuperSport United are a side that was renowned for producing top talent and affording those players the maximum opportunity for growth in the first team, yet they have now eclipsed that development policy with one that aims to recruit more established footballers on pre-contracts or sign players approaching the end of their peak’s as footballers for a fraction of the price they would have had to spend on a younger lad. There is no knocking a transfer policy that works, yet when a policy works at the expense of the development of talented young South African lads that could help elevate the standard of our national side, we at GSV find it impossible to remain silent; the re-signing of Daine Klate, a player that should have left South Africa when he entered the peak stage of his career, is a transfer we find dumbfounding to say the least. SuperSport United are a team that were desperately in need of a rebuilding phase after the appointment of gaffer Gordon Igesund, a man that is known for preferring a proven quantity over a promising youngster; yet a side that invests so much in developing top young talent for the elite level should really be looking for solutions in house when tasked with adding more quality or depth to their side. Daine Klate is South Africa’s most decorated footballer for a reason, he played in good sides at the elite level and was afforded the opportunity to play regular football from a relatively young age, the lad was a seasoned professional by the time he entered the peak stages of his football development; now his signing could block the route to similar opportunities for a skilled and promising young winger with the ability to become one of the best wide players Mzansi Diski has produced in recent years.
Skhumbuzo Mazibuko is a South African youth international with bags of ability and suitcases of potential, at 19 going on 20, the lad can ill-afford to be sidelined for another two or three seasons when he could be learning to elevate his intensity at the elite level. The resigning of Daine Klate could see the talented lad marginalised at the stage in his development where he needs to be playing a greater degree of football at the level he was developed to be plying his trade; Mazibuko cannot be another one of those footballers we allow to waste their talent in the reserve league or eventually scampering from club to club trying to establish himself before being scooped up by a bigger side in his late 20’s, when he should have been developing at the required rate for him to reach his peak years as a footballer at the pinnacle of his powers as a talented and skilful winger that has the ability to help elevate the playing standard of South African football.
According to “trusted sources” Mamelodi Sundowns have been close to procuring the services of Orlando Pirates skipper and talisman Oupa Manyisa since before the start of the transfer window, a deal which has been rumoured to be one that could shatter the South African transfer record, although that means very little when the lack of transparency regarding player transfers, contracts and remuneration is borderline criminal. Mamelodi Sundowns are a side that has a plethora of stars on their payroll, many of which are farmed out on loan at the moment; it makes little sense for a local side to sign one of South Africa’s elite footballers when he is now at the stage in his career when a move to a league of a higher playing standard would better his career and the entire football fraternity as a whole. Regardless of whether the deal goes through or not, the fact that any of the stakeholders involved were interested in ensuring that it does, is reason enough for us at GSV to get on our soap box and take a stand; Mamelodi Sundowns have the responsibility to ensure that the talent at their disposal does not waste away as they continually open their bottomless reserves to sign footballers. Many quarters of the media praised them for their inactivity during the transfer period, yet they have enough talent on their books to go another 3 windows without adding any new players to their roster and still enjoying a great spell of dominance in Mzansi Diski; instead of commending them for not spending, we ought to implore them to keep utilizing what they already have at their disposal, which is double what some clubs of the same ilk have to work with.
Keagan Dolly and Mogakolodi Ngele have already been signed and loaned out until the end of the season, yet that is not a fact that irks us as much as the continued stalling of Percy Tau’s career; Tau is one of the most gifted playmakers of his generation, a game changing talent that still plays football with that Mzansi Diski flair many of his peers and elders forsook a while ago. With the imminent arrival of Dolly and Ngele, one would not be remiss to think that Tau would have a hard time establishing his place in the Mamelodi Sundowns side with them around next season; then the potential addition of Manyisa this season would have spelled doom for the lad going forward. Percy Tau has already been afforded few opportunities to establish himself as a fixture in the Sundowns first team, that issue has already proven to be a cause for concern as the lad is turning 21 in May and would have reached a pivotal stage in his development as a young footballer. We need to stand up and protect our talented young lads from being mismanaged by clubs, gaffers, agents and quarters of the media; Percy Tau is a national commodity as he has the potential to become one of the best footballers of his generation and an elite level superstar once he gets his game together and begins to merge his God-given talents with the level of maturity and application we require from star players with the ability to succeed at the highest echelon.
Until we begin to make inroads into ensuring that the playground legends grow into proven stars at the elite level and not just a great tale to tell your mates at the bar years down the line, the playing standard of Mzansi Diski will never reflect its immense talent pool. Our goldmine has endless levels that have gone unexplored for far too long, it’s high time we started ensuring that we develop players of the calibre we deserve as a fraternity. Yet, it would be futile to develop such talented lads in the current football transfer cycle where the personnel recycling would make Al Gore proud… We need to build a transfer climate where talented young lads are not marginalised for their more experienced counterparts and the big money moves are not just power-plays by sides looking to flex their financial muscle in an attempt to show each other up while weakening the standard of our football. It’s high time clubs, players and their agents start looking to move our top talents abroad and allow them to play at a higher level before they start to stagnate and regress in our elite league; this upward movement would create for more opportunities for talented young lads to be afforded the chances they require to become the stars they are destined to be. This change in ideology would benefit the clubs as their reputation for honing talent worthy of playing at the elite level would grow, it would benefit players as they will be afforded the platform to play at a level befitting of their abilities, it would benefit the agents as potential clients would jump at the chance to be represented by a professional that aims to better their clients in all regards and most importantly, it would better our fraternity as a whole because we will have an increased talent pool with top players playing in top leagues and young players playing in a thriving and ever growing Premier League; it may just be the first step to fixing our broken scouting network which has led to the shocking recycling of talent but Bob’s your setä, every worthwhile journey begins with us taking the first bold step.