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SA Football Outshone Europe's This Week!

On Thursday, I travelled to Ajax Cape Town's headquarters to have a chat with the head of scouting there, Sergio Dos Santos, former Kaizer Chiefs player and coach. He had some interesting things to say about the quality of football in South Africa, and why you should spare yourself watching European football...

"The bottom line is, if the stadium is full, the quality of the football is better. Why is it that, in South Africa, when the stadium is full, it's great?" Dos Santo asked.

I have to agree. I've watched three football games over the past week: the Nedbank Cup final, the UEFA Champions League final and the friendly international between England and Portugal on Thursday night.

I can safely say that these three events have made me patriotic beyond belief today. The Champions League final was a dreary affair. Scrappy goal, missed penalties and 120 minutes of shadow-boxing. It was one of those games that is easily forgotten, like eating a cold soup and still feeling hungry afterwards.

Then there was the match between Portugal and England. I am angry at myself for actually sitting through the whole thing. I was really excited before the game; when was the last time England had so many strikers? I thought there was going to be goals galore; instead, I was subjected to back-passing and dry toast football. I am genuinely upset, my time would have been better spent staring at my feet for 90 minutes. The most exciting part was Bruno Alves' flying kick to Harry Kane's face, and even then I've seen better face kicks...

And then there was the best of them, SuperSport United versus Orlando Pirates. What a spectacle! Everyone in the stadium got their money's worth that day, even the poor Buccaneer fans who travelled all the way to Polokwane to witness the slaughter – at least they got some entertainment. The goals made the drive worth it; a 0-0 draw is a waste of everyone's time. That was South African football at its finest, and the full stadium was no coincidence.

"SuperSport versus Pirates Cup final… Better than the Champions League! But nobody has the balls to say it, and nobody can convince me otherwise," Dos Santos said.

"It had everything you want in football, from shooting to dribbling, to crosses to headers, to tripping to arguing! It had everything you want in a football game.

"Tactically, it was superb! Baxter was brilliant in the first half and Tinkler figured out a plan in the second.

"It's all about the crowds! Don't get fooled when we watch these big games overseas, they are not that big. Put the people in the stadium here and, I'm telling you, I've been saying it for decades, it's all about the crowds. South Africa is better than a lot of people think."

The lesson for the day, then, is that South African football can be at a global standard, even more so, if the people buy into it and fill the stadium. I guess it's a chicken-and-egg scenario, though, but, nonetheless, it's good to know our boys can play quality football when they want to.


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