The good, the bad & the ugly of the year 2018
The year 2018 has come and is almost gone. But it has left followers of the beautiful game with a number of standout moments that will live long in their hearts and minds. Sihle Ndebele, Gomolemo Motshwane and Tiyani wa ka Mabasa go through the highs and lows of the last 12 months
Tau roars: Year of the lion
Percy Tau, the great hope of South African football, took his game to greater heights in 2018.
In the last 12 months Percy Tau has come into his own and has removed all doubts that he is currently the best South African footballer.
His life has taken a turn for the best as he now finds himself where he belongs - in Europe.
After spearheading Mamelodi Sundowns' successful title charge earlier in the year, Tau unsurprisingly made a clean sweep at the PSL awards.
The eMalahleni-born, Mpumalanga, sensation scooped the Footballer of the Season and Player's Player of the Season gongs.
He was also joint top scorer on 11 goals with Polokwane City striker Rodney Ramagalela.
His performances for Sundowns and Bafana Bafana caught the attentions of a number of suitors as clubs from Europe came knocking at the door of billionaire Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe.
In the end, Brighton & Hove Albion got his signature with a record transfer of R50m. Due to Visa regulations, Tau had to be shipped out on loan to Saint-Gilloise in Belgium.
There he has been the star of the team where he has scored seven goals and provided six assists in 19 games.
Banyana finally come of age
2018 will go down as the most memorable year for Banyana after securing their first ever World Cup ticket.
The Desiree Ellis-coached side achieved this feat via finishing as runners-up in the Africa Women's Cup of Nations in Ghana early this month.
Banyana lost to Nigeria on penalties in the final but the nation was still proud, giving them a heroes' welcome at the OR Tambo International Airport.
Banyana's outstanding display in Ghana was cherry-topped by a CAF recognition. Star striker Thembi Kgatlana, the top scorer and the Player of the Tournament in Afcon, is nominated for the CAF Women's Player of the Year alongside skipper Janine van Wyk. Ellis is in the running for the Coach of the Year gong.
The catalyst for this success was the exporting of players such as Kgatlana, Linda Motlhalo (both to Houston Dash in US) and Refiloe Jane (to Canberra United in Australia) among others.
Their experience gained abroad aided Banyana.
All in all 2018 was a great year for SA women's football. The under-17 women's national team scored the first World Cup goal across all SA women's national teams. Netted by Zethembiso Vilakazi against Brazil last month, Bantwana's goal came in their second World Cup appearance.
Ea Lla Koto triumph
After a 24-year drought, Free State Stars finally won a trophy when they clinched the Nedbank Cup in May.
It was an incredible feat for the club that a few years ago was put on sale and was nearly relegated. For the longest time the club was just an also-ran in the top-flight and posed no threat of being championship material.
But all that changed when the mercurial Luc Eymael was hired and turned them into a bunch of winners.
SA’s only 2018 World Cup representative
In Bafana Bafana’s absence at the World Cup played in Russia after they failed to qualify, assistant referee Zakhele Siwela ran the line as South Africa's onlyrepresentative at the tournament and he didn’t disappoint in his first match, which Belgium won 3-0 against Panama in Group G, before also being part of Japan versus Poland.
Baroka’s big upset
Baroka became Limpopo’s first club to win a top-flight cup when they overcame Orlando Pirates on penalties in the Telkom Knockout final a fortnight ago.Having only been established in 2007, Bakgaga’s triumph is a motivation to other so-called small teams. So is Benni McCarthy winning his maiden cup as a coach. McCarthy guided Cape Town City to the MTN8 glory, beating SuperSport United in the final in September
THE UGLY OF THE YEAR 2018
Caught way offside: David Thidiela’s tribalism rant
The Black Leopards boss was caught offside with an attack on referee Victor Hlungwani peppered with tribal undertones. This after Leopards lost 1-0 to Bloemfontein Celtic at Thohoyandou Stadium in September.“We are not a violent people, but don’t push me... He’s a Shangaan. A Shangaan do [sic] this,” said Thidiela in a leaked recording, clearly unhappy with the decisions taken by the match official during the match. Thidiela’s rant was widely condemned, leading to his suspension by the PSL’s executive committee. Thidiela muddied the waters by launching a scathing attack on PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza last week, alleging that the league is completely captured. “Individuals, structures of the NSL, match officials, etc are manipulated for the self-interest of one man, or a few who surround or are appointed by him, to wage personal battles. The PSL is completely captured,” Thidiela claimed in a letter he wrote to Fifa seeking their intervention.
Moses Mabhida chaos
Luckily, no life was lost on that fateful night in Durban. The violent scenes at the Moses Mabhida Stadium back in April in the Nedbank Cup semifinal between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars was a lesson for all South Africans to learn. Our people’s inclination to resort to violence in reaction to our problems is a matter that needs to be addressed. Just as we see with schools and libraries being destroyed in service delivery protests, that bad habit found its way into football. Those ugly scenes should never be repeated.
Fan attack on Mokwena
During the goalless draw between Mamelodi Sundown s and Orlando Pirates at Loftus last month, Bucs assistant coach Rulani Mokwena was confronted by a Sundowns fan on the bench.
Safa election debacle
Earlier this year, Danny Jordaan was re-elected Safa president after a bruising battle with Ace Ncobo. The fact that Jordaan received 234 of 246 votes would suggest it was a walk in the park for him in retaining his position, but this had turned into a personal affair that spilled into the public domain. Ncobo actually withdrew from the race citing that the election was illegitimate, unconstitutional and in breach of the very statutes of Safa. On a more personal note , Jordaan denied allegations by singer Jennifer Ferguson.
The Tendai Ndoro saga
Danny Jordaan Ajax Cape Town snapped up the Zimbabwean striker from Saudi club Al Faisaly last season. But Ndoro had played for Orlando Pirates earlier in the 2017/18 campaign and turning out for the Urban Warriors would mean contravening Fifa rules. Players are allowed to register for three clubs in one season but can only play official matches for two. Ajax were docked eight points and, as a result, were relegated.
Death robs the beautiful game of loyal servants, young and old
The passing of valued role players such as referee Eketsang Setloboko and Royal Eagles coach Roger Sikhakhane, among others, put a damper on 2018.
Setloboko lost his life in a car crash in his home province of Eastern Cape last Friday.
Among high-profile matches he handled is the Premier Soccer League’s Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs on October 27.
Sikhakhane passed away early last month after battling an illness for a while. At the time of his death, he was placed on sick leave by his club Eagles.
The late mentor was the kingpin of the NFD and was known for guiding clubs to top flight promotion.
The local football fraternity also dealt with another major loss when Uthongathi (NFD club) owner Nicholas Mkhize was shot dead in September.
Tragedy hit again in September when former Hellenic and Cape Town Spurs midfielder Reggie Jantjies passed away after spending some time in hospital.
Earlier in the year, two Pirates legends in Kenneth Mazibuko and Oscar “Jazz man” Dlamini also passed on.
Their passing was followed by the death of Maritzburg United youngster Luyanda Ntshangase, who died months after he was struck by lightning while on the field of play.