Galaxy Is The Future
They are barely half a decade old, still pretty wet behind the ears, so to speak. They are a bunch that was put together less than a year ago, yet they’ve done what some of the oldest teams have not even come close to accomplishing.
TS Galaxy is the new kid on the block and they have surprised everyone by walking before they could even crawl as a new-born! This is a team that was formed following the purchase of the Mother City-based Cape Town All Stars’ National First Division status, last year, and merging it with their third tier, ABC Motsepe League side, which was formed three years earlier.
They are a side of many firsts. They were the first NFD team to field 11 U23 players. They are the first NFD team to win the Nedbank Cup. They are the first all-South African team to play a cup final with no foreigners in their starting line-up. They are the first team to help coach Dan “Dance” Malesela to finally realise his dream of winning silverware and it couldn’t have happened in a better competition than a cup competition he holds dear to his heart. They are the first NFD team to beat ‘South African Cup Kings’ Kaizer Chiefs in a cup final in the PSL era.
Before Saturday night, three other NFD teams had reached the final of this lucrative South African version of England’s FA Cup, with Mpumalanga Black Aces, Pretoria University and Black Leopards all coming second best against their Absa Premiership opponents. While Pretoria University’s Last 16 4-3 win and Baroka FC’s 2011 quarter-final 3-1 win against Chiefs are well-documented, Galaxy’s win has overshadowed those two as it wasn’t just an elimination but a cup final defeat. A trophy that Amakhosi needed more than any other in their rich history, in an effort to stop the rot that has seen them complete four seasons without any piece of silverware! A first for the Naturena-based club, turning 50 next year!
Surely, despite his meticulous planning and vision, club chairman and owner, Tim Sukazi, would never have imagined his project returning his investment so soon and in such a fashion, by winning the Nedbank Cup final and earning a place to represent South Africa in the CAF Confederation Cup. Beating a more-fancied and experienced Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 to be crowned champions is something dreams are made of. No one would have predicted this end to the competition; in fact, it has now become evident that the club’s management and technical team were never found wanting despite their relative inexperience in situations like this. The much-anticipated cup final at Moses Mabhida was further proof that Galaxy is the future.
The win was no fluke and it was crystal clear, even leading up to the game, that Galaxy had covered their bases behind the scenes to ensure that stage fright, anxiety and excitement don’t come into effect. They didn’t only focus on the physical readiness but the psychological as well, which was always going to be the most important. The club’s coach told the media, a few days before the cup final, “I also invited a lot of legends to come and motivate the boys. The likes of Roger Feutmba, Bernard Lushozi, Eric Ramasike … you know, because these are people who have tasted glory at different levels. I called them in to say, ‘Look, speak to the boys’ and we had a very good chat. I realised that the mood is calm, there’s no excitement, there’s no anxiety as yet but you never know what happens on the weekend. But we will guard against that. I’m one person who doesn’t like to focus on what the opponents are doing. We’d like to perfect these guys, get them ready for the match, do the right planning for our team. If anything happens in the match, at half-time we will fix if there’s fixing to do. If there’s something we need to capitalise on, we will capitalise on whatever that happens in the match… we just prepare ourselves for any possible eventuality.” If that wasn’t a stern warning to the opposition, nothing else could be.
Asked about the possibility of making history by being the first to win the trophy with an NFD side, the former defender showed even more confidence in his team.
“People like making history, people like breaking records. If this is it, let it be. This is a chance to do that, we will just cherish it when it comes. We will push ourselves, we will fight until the end. We are not only preparing ourselves for a 90-minute game, we are preparing ourselves for even more. I think God provides where things are right. I think a lot of things are right at the club, we’re playing good football, we’re doing things right, we’re calm in whatever and God will always provide for people who are doing things right. I think we are on the right track… Look, we are in the final for a reason. You can’t got to a final and say, ‘Ok let’s go there, whatever happens, happens. No, no, no, we got ourselves into a final and we need to win it.” That confidence clearly rubbed off on his charges and it became evident in their ball possession dominance in the first half and they should have gone to the break at least with two goals to their name.
The level of arrogance and confidence in their play was something to behold. They defended well and even when pressed by Khama Billiat and Bernard Parker, Malesela’s charges confidently and coolly played themselves out of danger without any panic. They played the game the way we all want to see it. They earned everyone’s respect because they outplayed their opponents and reduced them to an ordinary side that couldn’t even threaten them that much, except for the two real attempts they made at the start of the second half. Galaxy are a perfect example of what South African football is all about, they are a perfect proof of the quality and talent we have in this country. It is such a pity that such talent gets destroyed instead of being enhanced. Their focus on development and nurturing young talent is exactly what our football has been yearning for, for years. Such a breath of fresh air and a great example.
May Galaxy keep the fires burning because, in them, we could have the answers to South African football’s problems and lay a foundation to take our football to the next level.
As a parting shot, it became evident that KwaZulu-Natal will continue to dominate the hosting of cup finals if the entertainment attached to the game on Saturday night and at the awards ceremony on Sunday night continues to be as it was. The rest of the country has a lot of catching up to do. Catch KZN if you can!