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Shakes Has To Harness Our Averageness!

So the first round of Absa Premiership PSL league games got underway last weekend and I have to admit, I was not very impressed. 
 
Some of the fields the players had to play on were embarrassing. I’ve played on better fields in a Sunday knockabout with my mates. It’s exactly the type of thing that I mean when I say that our league at times is smoke and mirrors. If I’m the sponsor of the league watching the Chiefs’ opener against Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium, I’m asking a couple of questions about standards and what my brand as the main sponsor expects. Surely professional football in South Africa has gone past playing on a cabbage patch?
 
But enough about the standards of the pitch, let’s talk about the standards of the football on display. Just 12 goals were scored in the opening round of the PSL. Yep, 16 teams, 12 goals… and you wonder why fans don’t go to watch live games anymore! The standard of finishing in this country is appalling. Yes, coaches and players will say that if it’s so easy to score goals, then why don’t I come and do it. Hey, I don’t get paid R150 000 a month to teach players to put the ball in the back of the net. I don’t have hours on end to request that I get extra training on my own on how to finish and work on my technique. That’s you guys. 
 
Time and again you hear how players are late to training or just barely on time. And that as soon as training finishes they are straight off the pitch and heading to a shopping mall or something of the sort. Yet, when you speak to the foreign-based players, you hear about how players will come to training sessions two hours before to work on their weak points. How they will stay after training in the pouring rain to work on their crossing, their finishing or just their general fitness and conditioning. 
 
The very best strikers in the world never look rushed. Even while everyone around them is going at a million miles an hour, and while a stadium of 60 000 fans are screaming and going wild, they are as cool as ice. They operate in the eye of the storm. People aren’t born with that. That is down to hours and hours of training, of repetition, so that when those situations occur, when preparation meets opportunity, the greats… no, not even the greats, just the good professionals… are prepared. 
 
Hopefully things get better and soon. We have Nigeria visiting us in the near future and Shakes Mashaba is going to have to harness the averageness that is our football to compete with one of the giants on the African continent. Things could get messy. 
 
On a lighter note, for those of you who missed last week’s column, you will have missed the fact that Soccer Laduma launched the Supporters Club. We’ve created a platform, well actually a movement, where, by simply signing up, you get to speak directly to the Soccer Laduma editors on a daily basis and guide our editorial direction. More than that, once we have the numbers we will be powerful enough to actually go to SAFA, the PSL or even the government with your concerns about SA football and actually make a change. We’ll be able to address issues like ticket pricing, public transport to and from games, which stadiums you want your teams to play at, coaching licences, academies... the list is endless. So if you have not yet signed up, or if you are not yet part of the Soccer Laduma digital family, get on your phone now, type in www.soccerladuma.co.za, look for the Supporters tab and join us now!
 
This is our chance to put your hands back on the wheel of South African soccer and get us back on track!
 
Shapa, Clint

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