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Time To Rid Our Game Of Criminals!

There’s never a dull moment when it comes to South African football. One minute we are on top of the world, with the Beautiful Game uniting us as a nation, the next the same Beautiful Game proves itself to be somewhat less than beautiful, with FIFA match-fixing revelations, allegations and threats flying, as those implicated try to escape the accusations.
Last week we saw the bans FIFA metered out to former SAFA officials making the headlines. This was followed by a story that we broke about an alleged match-fixing ploy ahead of the Chippa United and Maritzburg United’s league clash in Port Elizabeth this past Sunday. Long story short, an unnamed Chippa player was allegedly offered a bribe to throw the game, which ultimately finished in a 2-2 draw. The news was confirmed by the club’s chairman, Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi, although his opposite number at the ‘Team of Choice’ has kept quiet about the allegations. Mpengesi revealed to the Siya crew that the player in question informed the club about the bribery attempt and that he was going to sign an affidavit as the club looks to investigate the matter further. “We are very upset that something like this could be happening in South African football and we have brought the matter to the PSL,” said Mpengesi.
From what we saw at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, there was no sign of any foul play, but that could be attributed to the fact that the whistle was blown the moment the news broke on our website on Friday morning, two days before the game. The two teams ultimately shared the spoils in an entertaining encounter that could have gone either way. Having said that, nine out of 10 match-fixing incidents look completely innocent until they are uncovered. You don’t suspect anything until the rumours start flying, and then things that seemed odd start adding up and opening your eyes, so to speak. Yet it remains to be seen what the club and the PSL’s investigations will reveal. The PSL has also revealed that eight match officials and players have been linked to alleged match-fixing! 
One thing we do know, though, is that we as a country are sick and tired of this match-fixing cloud hovering over our Beautiful Game! Let Chippa and the PSL come forward with proof so that the perpetrators of this most recent incident are brought to book. We need to rid our football of these criminals. The sooner we do that the better, as we need to restore the pride and faith of our football-loving supporters, who are quickly losing patience with these shenanigans. 
Still on match-fixing allegations, we await the powers-that-be at SAFA to set the record straight regarding the alleged match-fixing by FIFA. The world football body call it bribery, but Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula believes it isn’t. SAFA need to go to FIFA and set the record straight. People have been waiting for our mother body to prove the claims wrong but all that has happened has been dead silence from the Nasrec-based SAFA house. Their silence is indeed deafening!  
As if that was not enough, we’re now left with only one representative, Mamelodi Sundowns, in this year’s CAF competitions after history repeated itself following Ajax Cape Town, Bidvest Wits and, most recently, Kaizer Chiefs’ disappointing early elimination from the continental tournaments. While on the surface the three teams’ poor performances were expected, the consequences could prove dire for South African football! The fact that three of our teams couldn’t even reach the group stages of these competitions paints a terrible picture of South African football and further confirms that we are, sadly, not as good as we seem to think. It further proves that some of our teams don’t really seem to care about making a mark on the continent. We hope Downs will continue to keep the South African’s flag flying high and take over from where Orlando Pirates left off.
Bafana Bafana also face a mammoth task against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in their quest to secure a place in the next AFCON tournament in Gabon. After two games played so far in Group M, the teams are separated by five points, with Cameroon on top with six points and Bafana in third  place with just a point. A quick scan through Cameroon’s squad is further testament that South African football is far from where it should be! Most of their players ply their trades in top world leagues and the level of competition and experience they come with can’t be over-emphasised. This is a must-win for Coach Shakes Mashaba’s team as anything less than three points – depending on other results of course – will in all likelihood mean the end of the road for our AFCON 2017 ambitions.
In this edition, Mamelodi Sundowns’ former captain, Alje Schut, speaks highly of Dutch striker Lars Veldwijk, who has gone on record about his desire to play for Bafana Bafana. The FC Zwolle striker is fathered by a South African and is yet to represent Holland, which makes him eligible for Shakes’ consideration. Lars has been hitting the back of the net on a regular basis and, as Schut puts it, could be great for Bafana. The ball is in Coach Shakes’ court. All the best to Shakes and the boys – we hope you can make us proud even with the odds heavily stacked against us. We need a reason to smile and forget about the shenanigans that have engulfed our Beautiful Game over the last few of weeks. Go, Bafana, go!

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