Who’s your money on?

It’s foot­ball awards time again, and it looks likely that Messi will rule them all once more

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za Dan Retief dan.retief@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @retief­dan

While the de­bate rages about whether Luis Suárez should have made the short list, the more in­ter­est­ing ques­tion is: can Ney­mar break Lionel Messi and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s dom­i­nance of the Fifa Bal­lon d’Or award?

Messi and Ron­aldo have won it for the past seven years be­tween them, with the Ar­gen­tinian mae­stro tak­ing it four con­sec­u­tive times from 2009-2012 and the Por­tuguese su­per­star re­claim­ing it over the past two years.

Although the young Brazil­ian has been a rev­e­la­tion this year af­ter help­ing Barcelona clinch the La Liga, Copa del Rey and Cham­pi­ons League tre­ble, Ney­mar’s team-mate Messi re­mains the favourite to lift the award for a fifth time.

While many would have loved to see Barcelona mak­ing it a one-two-three fin­ish with the in­clu­sion of Suárez, the short list once more shows La Liga’s dom­i­nance in world foot­ball.

On the African front, a sim­i­lar ques­tion is be­ing asked about Dort­mund’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang and the Black Stars’ An­dré Ayew of Swansea, who are up against four-time win­ner Yaya Touré of Cote d’Ivoire.

De­spite help­ing the Ele­phants win the Africa Cup of Na­tions early this year, Touré’s form for City has fluc­tu­ated.

By con­trast, the Borus­sia Dort­mund man’s rise has been ir­re­press­ible. Aubameyang is Touré’s great­est ri­val for the award, hav­ing racked up a stun­ning Who is your Fifa and CAF player of the year? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word

and tell us what you think. SMSes cost R1.50 each. Al­ter­na­tively, talk to us on Twit­ter (@Ci­ty_Press) or Face­book (face­book.com/city­press.co.za)

AWARDS

Sa­dio Mané (Southamp­ton, Sene­gal)

Serge Aurier (Paris Saint-Ger­main, Côte d’Ivoire)

Sofi­ane Feghouli (Va­len­cia, Al­ge­ria)

Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Al­ge­ria)

Yaya Touré (Manch­ester City, Ivory Coast) 2011: Messi 2010: Messi 2009: Messi 2008: Ron­aldo 20 goals and five as­sists for BVB this sea­son. He is en­joy­ing the best pe­riod of his ca­reer and has been linked with a move from Ger­many. He is ru­moured to be on the radars of Manch­ester United and Barcelona.

Ghana’s Ayew has emerged as one of the most ex­cit­ing play­ers in the English Premier League fol­low­ing his sum­mer move to Swansea City af­ter eight years with French side Olympique de Mar­seille.

He scored on de­but against Chelsea and has recorded six strikes in 14 league games. He was voted Swansea’s best player for Au­gust and Oc­to­ber. At the in­ter­na­tional level, he was in good form de­spite Ghana los­ing on penal­ties to Cote d’Ivoire in the fi­nal of the Na­tions Cup in Equa­to­rial Guinea. He fin­ished as the top scorer of the tour­na­ment.

The cer­e­mony to re­veal the African foot­baller of the year will take place on Jan­uary 7 in Nige­ria, while the Fifa Bal­lon d’Or will be an­nounced four days later in Zurich.

Aubameyang, Ayew, Touré, Al­ge­ria’s Yacine Brahimi and Sene­gal’s Sa­dio Mané are in the run­ning for the BBC African Foot­baller of the Year award, which will be an­nounced on Fri­day.

Heyneke Meyer’s in­evitable res­ig­na­tion means the SA Rugby Union (Saru) is search­ing for its 13th Spring­bok coach since read­mis­sion in 1992.

The job has rightly been de­scribed as a poi­soned chal­ice and Meyer was the lat­est to suc­cumb to the bit­ter mix­ture of high ex­pec­ta­tion and in­tense pub­lic scru­tiny.

Meyer made a num­ber of er­rors. He was mar­ried to out­dated meth­ods, his gam­bles on in­jured or age­ing play­ers did not pay off and he did not un­der­stand the im­per­a­tives of trans­for­ma­tion. He came in for harsh crit­i­cism from for­mer Boks and rugby fans alike.

More im­por­tantly, he lost the con­fi­dence of the young black con­stituency Saru has to woo if our rugby is to re­main com­pet­i­tive.

In the end, Meyer read the writ­ing on the wall. He was no longer wanted and, with the added con­sid­er­a­tion of the un­for­giv­able abuse be­ing hurled at his school­go­ing chil­dren, he de­cided to take the hon­ourable route.

Saru has an­nounced that the search for a suc­ces­sor has be­gun. CEO Jurie Roux will con­sult with the union’s high-per­for­mance com­mit­tee to draw up the re­quire­ments of the job and lay these be­fore the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil and the gen­eral coun­cil on Fri­day for ap­proval.

Saru pres­i­dent Ore­gan Hoskins briefly fronted up to the me­dia on Fri­day, in­ti­mat­ing that the de­ci­sion might be post­poned. He placed the em­pha­sis on trans­for­ma­tion.

De­lay­ing the de­ci­sion is no bad thing, be­cause the Boks will not be in ac­tion again un­til June next year. But you have to ques­tion whether the blaz­ers of Saru are go­ing about this in the right way.

In­stead of rush­ing to ap­point a new man will­ing to sip from the poi­soned chal­ice, they should per­haps ask them­selves whether the high turnover of coaches in­di­cates that there is some­thing wrong with the sys­tem.

Is there any coach in the world who could be suc­cess­ful and im­part a play­ing style to the Spring­boks, given the min­i­mal time he gets with the na­tional team?

After the World Cup, it is com­mon cause that the Spring­boks’ brand of play is out of date and pre­dictable; change is needed, but how to achieve this?

Next year, the new Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion fea­tur­ing 18 teams will start in Fe­bru­ary and con­tinue un­abated un­til May 28 for the June in­ter­na­tional win­dow in which the Spring­boks will play a three-test se­ries against Ire­land.

The first of these tests will be on June 11 (at New­lands) which means the new coach will have just two weeks to work with his team.

After June, it will be back into Su­per Rugby un­til early Au­gust – and the Boks will then be in ac­tion again in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship dur­ing Au­gust, Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

As Meyer knew, and reaf­firmed dur­ing his stint in charge, Spring­bok tests have to be won – so there will hardly be any time in which to im­part a dif­fer­ent, more fluid pat­tern.

By the end of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, the play­ers will be ex­hausted, the end-of-year tour to the UK will be in the off­ing (tests against Eng­land and Wales have al­ready been con­firmed) and the new coach will find him­self on an un­re­lent­ing tread­mill.

Throw in the fact that many great play­ers from this era will have re­tired and many more will be over­seas, and it is easy to see how a coach might fall into a mind-set of try­ing to win matches at all costs rather than re­build­ing a team to be­come a world beater in fu­ture.

For Saru, the chal­lenge there­fore is not to sim­ply ap­point a new coach. They have to find a way to help him to be suc­cess­ful.

PHOTO: AL­BERT GEA / REUTERS PHOTO: GON­ZALO AR­ROYO MORENO / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: STU FORSTER / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: SASCHA STEIN­BACH / BON­GARTS / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: DEAN MOUHTAROPOU­LOS / GETTY IM­AGES PHOTO: DAVID RAMOS / GETTY IM­AGES

GE­NIUS Ney­mar has been a mar­vel to watch for Barcelona SU­PER­STAR Cris­tiano Ron­aldo won the award in the

past two years

SU­PERB An­dré Ayew scored on de­but for Swansea RIS­ING STAR Pierre-Em­er­ick

Aubameyang has been a rev­e­la­tion for Dort­mund

STAR PER­FORMER Yaya Touré has been an in­te­gral

part of Manch­ester City

LIT­TLE MAE­STRO Lionel Messi is tipped to walk away with the top award again

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