Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Danone Nations Cup world finals – South Africa finish third in their group

Mophela Primary School, representing South Africa at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in New York, won one and lost two of their preliminary pool matches on Friday and go into the group that will contest positions 17 to 32 on Saturday.

They beat the team from England 3-2, but went down 2-0 to the UAE and 3-0 to Indonesia, to finish 3rd in their pool

Although it is disappointing that they never progressed to the top half of the draw, there were some positives, the main one being that they are not that far behind the other nations in terms of skill and physicality.

The main difference is that they lack the self-confidence to take their chances when they present themselves, and they are sometimes guilty of over-elaborating, dribbling for a moment too long and often losing possession as a result.

There were two very distinct differences in playing styles between the UAE team and the South African boys. The SA team was extremely skilful and often did little tricks to get past their opposition, while the UAE was a very well trained and well-structured team.

South Africa dominated territory and possession and had many chances in the game but they did not take advantage of any of them. The UAE had fewer chances and managed to score two goals on the counter attack.

The second match for South Africa was against England, another team that had also lost their first match. South Africa dominated the match and went up 3-1 in no time, thanks to a hat trick by Njabulo Ndlovu, who has proved to be a revelation in the USA. They then made a couple of substitutions that nearly cost them the game. It was important, however, that all the players got a chance to play and that they feel part of the tournament.

The substitutions disrupted the structures in defense and South Africa was caught out by not following a fundamental rule in defense and that is to clear the ball out of the box. As soon as England scored and narrowed the gap to 3-2 they went on the attack, South Africa were in total disarray.

South Africa tried hard to pull themselves together and managed to keep their advantage. If there were another 5 minutes in the game, the score might have been different.

The biggest lessons of the day were learned in the final match. Indonesia’s strategy was very simple. Defend solidly, and try not to concede a goal. And when they did get the ball they passed it to their number 11 who was a very special player.

South Africa started off well. They had two or three chances that they were not able to take advantage of and at one stage they must have been wondering what was so amazing about this Indonesian team. Then the Indonesians managed to get to ball to their number 11.

He is a giant of a boy, 1,80m tall, with great pace and ball control. The first goal came from a corner.  No matter how hard the South African defense tried they could not stop the Indonesian number 11 from scoring. Shortly afterwards South Africa had two chances to equalise but could not convert.

The Indonesians scored their second goal also off a corner.  Once again the team could not stop the Indonesian number 11 from scoring his brace. Their third goal came a minute later when the number 11 broke on the right hand side of the field and drew the whole South African defense before chipping the ball to one of his team mates who easily put the ball into the net.

Coach Syabonga Ndimande said that the team has learned from their games. The main thing is that they do not have to feel intimidated on the field and that they should play positive football and try to score goals.

“We need to build our confidence and take our chances and we can do well in the playoff games,” he said.


Friday, September 22, 2017

WF - opening ceremony is over games about to start

The final preparations are over, the opening ceremony is done and, for the under-12 soccer team from Mophela Primary School, it all kicks off late on Friday (SA time) when they take on the representatives from the United Arab Emirates in their first game at the Danone Nations Cup World Finals in New York City.

On Thursday the team trained with the team from Algeria, and played a practice game against them, and felt the effects of jetlag for the first time in their young lives.

The training session started relatively well but as it progressed they found their bodies would not respond as they normally do. As a result, they lost the practice match 3-1, with the boys complaining that their legs were heavy.

Later in the day, the boys got to meet kids from other countries and eventually started playing little games with them. They started to get over their jetlag and found it easier and easier to play football as the day went on.

The teams from England and UAE arrived in New York on the 21st, a day later than team South Africa, and they really struggled to train. The South African team could see that they too are suffering from jetlag and will struggle in their opening games, so they have to take advantage of that when they meet them on Friday.

Their other opponents, Indonesia, arrived on the same day as team South Africa, but they did not have as far to travel and when they trained on Thursday they showed how good they are. Team South Africa have already identified their best player and have got plans in place to try to counteract him.

The team is full or confidence and is ready for the action to start. Their first objective is to win their first match then they will look at the second match to make sure that they qualify for the top half of the draw.

Only then will they think about winning their group. They will be taking the tournament one game at a time.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

‘Now is calling’ for cricket development

Audi, the Progressive Partner to the Proteas, has unveiled the Audi Q5 Fast Track, a new development initiative aimed at unearthing the next crop of great South African fast bowlers.  The initiative will be run in conjunction with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and will be the first to utilise state-of-the-art technology to assess and identify previously untapped talent from disadvantaged areas.  The programme will be powered by a fleet of Audi Q5s which will be taking Audi’s ‘Bowling Lab’ technology to locations around South Africa over the coming month. 

“The Audi Q5 Fast Track is an innovative and very exciting concept for South African cricket,” commented CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat. “It is well known that the Proteas have been blessed over the years with a wonderful array of fast bowlers like Allan Donald, Brett Schultz, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini among the former greats and Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris among the current stars.

“It goes without saying that we need to maintain our leadership in this field if we are to remain among the world’s best cricket playing nations.

“It is fitting that we are partnering with Audi who have a long-standing reputation for speed, efficiency, technical innovation and all-round excellence,” Mr. Lorgat concluded.

As Progressive Partner to the Proteas, Audi developed the ‘Bowling Lab’, a set-up which utilises state of the art PitchVision technology to instantly analyse a bowler’s performance by comparing pace, line, length, deviation and bounce to that of a current Proteas bowler.  It is this technology which will assist the Audi Q5 Fast Track team in their aim of unearthing hidden bowling gems.

The team tasked with identifying and unlocking the potential of talented young bowlers will be made up of some of the most prominent individuals in South African development cricket.  They will be led by ex-Protea speedster and development guru Mfuneko Ngam. Ngam will be joined by CSA appointed coaching experts including former Proteas bowler Victor Mpitsang. 

 “’Now is calling’ for the vast array of unidentified bowling talent across our country,” said Ngam.  

“I am really excited to be a part of an initiative aimed at giving young boys and girls who would otherwise never have had the opportunity a chance to be noticed.  To have the ability to utilise world class technology in disadvantaged communities will be a watershed moment in helping us select the right kids to get them into CSA development structures.  I can’t wait to see the talent we will discover, together with Audi, over the coming month.” 

The Audi Q5 Fast Track will be visiting locations across Gauteng, Limpopo, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape over a one-month period with the first event taking place at Kagiso Cricket Club on 23 September 2017. 

Trevor Hill, head of Audi South Africa, concluded, “Audi is proud to be able to support CSA in driving cricketing progress through the technology of the Audi Bowling Lab and the new Audi Q5.  As progressive partner to the Proteas, we strive to bring exciting and innovative programmes and initiatives to the team, fans and customers with the aim of progressing the cricket experience.  In line with that aim, we are now very excited to take our existing initiatives a step further by assisting CSA in progressing cricket as a whole through the Audi Q5 Fast Track.”