Behind the Scenes
Posted by one of our writers, Anthony McLennan
Football more than most sports provides the opportunity for David versus Goliath-type giant killings and upsets.
This uncertainty and unpredictability is one of the factors that makes the beautiful game my passion and a big part of my life, and this is why you’ll never find me singing the praises of teams like Real Madrid, Chelsea and now Manchester City – clubs that seem to have the belief that a formula for success can be bought in hard cash.
But that’s a story for another day. Off the field this week, South African football lovers were sent in to a frenzy as World Cup tickets were made available over the counter. Judging by the response, empty seats will not be a concern to FIFA.
My interest though lay on the field, where the Nedbank Cup, South Africa’s version of the FA Cup, is taking place. I remember as a youngster watching Wimbledon shocking Liverpool in the 1987 FA Cup.
I recall in 2002 the joy I felt at seeing Senegal triumphing over defending champions France, a country to who many of the west African nation’s best players had departed for.
As a former player myself, not quite good enough to make the professional grade, I love watching teams from the lower ranks compete as underdogs against the giants of the game.
Three matches were played during Wednesday night’s Nedbank Cup round of last 32, and already there was one giant slaying as second division (third tier) team ALS Puks Tawana beat Premiership side Platinum Stars 3-2, thanks to two goals from a player not many South African fans will have heard of – Jabulani Shongwe.
Shongwe may or may not go on to make it to the professional ranks, but either way he will remember this game for the rest of his life.
In fact the last two Nedbank Cup finals have each contained a side from the first division (second tier), and there will surely be more upsets as the competition continues this weekend.
Last Sunday its was Portsmouth, a team battling to avoid liquidation and already relegated from the Premiership, who overcame firm favourites Tottenham Hotspur, who themselves are thinking about competing in the European Champions League next season- unlike Pompey, who are gearing up for life in the Championship.
Somehow though, the thrill of the occasion at a packed Wembley Stadium spurred the south coast team onto greater heights as they sent Tottenham packing.
Now that it’s World Cup time, perhaps some of the lesser foot-balling nations could find inspiration from the likes of the FA and Nedbank Cups and will be dreaming of pulling off their own David versus Goliath act, hoping they can emulate a Senegal, Wimbledon or ALS Puks Tawana!
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