‘Lo­cal’ will be ‘Lekker’ in MTN8

All the par­tic­i­pat­ing sides in sea­sonopener have South African coaches

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MINENHLE MKHIZE

TWIST AND SHOUT: Eng­land’s Moeen Ali plays a re­verse sweep as he ups the tempo for his team against South Africa dur­ing the fourth and fi­nal Test of the se­ries yes­ter­day at Old Traf­ford. The home side are in a dom­i­nant po­si­tion with two days left. Re­mem­ber when Keaton Jen­nings scored that hun­dred on de­but in Mum­bai and a whole lot of peo­ple in South Africa car­ried on about how transformation meant South Africa lost an­other great tal­ent? And look, South Africa has prob­lems at the top of the or­der cur­rently, but if Jen­nings were avail­able for the Proteas, he wouldn’t be the so­lu­tion to those prob­lems, just like he isn’t for Eng­land. Jen­nings has a high­est score of 48 in this se­ries and has scored 127 runs at an av­er­age of 15.88. Dean El­gar finds him­self at slip these days, and he shouldn’t be there. El­gar’s one of the se­nior play­ers, but he’s not a good ‘slip­per’ and it’s time he was po­si­tioned else­where. He’s dropped three slip catches in this se­ries and the one he did catch at The Oval, he nearly dropped. South Africa missed five catches yes­ter­day – El­gar’s be­ing the sim­plest – while a hob­bling Heino Kuhn, a fly­ing Temba Bavuma and div­ing Faf du Plessis all grassed very hard op­por­tu­ni­ties. This sur­face is look­ing very worn out – and has aged much more than a day three pitch should have. Balls are shoot­ing through low, and the likes of Morne Morkel and Kag­iso Rabada were still get­ting de­liv­er­ies to bounce awk­wardly. There’s a huge amount of rough out there too for Moeen Ali when SA bat again. Rain’s been fore­cast for the last two days, and that is all that will save South Africa here. Morkel dis­missed Alastair Cook for the 12th time yes­ter­day, mak­ing it the most dis­missals of one bats­man by a South African bowler. Al­lan Don­ald dis­missed Mike Atherton 11 times (it should have been 12 – re­mem­ber Trent Bridge in 1998?) while Athol Rowan also dis­missed Len Hut­ton 11 times. No-one has dis­missed Cook more than Morkel, the next best is Mitchell John­son who’s got­ten him out nine times. “This team, is the best bal­anced one for Eng­land. The ques­tions for me com­ing into today was about bats­men No 2 (Jen­nings), No 3 (Tom West­ley) and No 5 (Dawie Malan) ... their tem­per­a­ment and tech­nique. And I’m sorry they all failed that test. Eng­land will win this se­ries, that’s nice, but we know noth­ing about bats­men No 2, No 3 and No 5.” Ge­of­frey Boy­cott points out holes in the Eng­land team. –

SOUTH AFRICAN coaches are set to make it a hat-trick of wins in the MTN8 knock­out com­pe­ti­tion that be­gins on Fri­day.

After all, each of the eight com­pet­ing clubs in the sea­son-open­ing tour­na­ment will have lo­cal coaches call­ing the shots from their benches.

And with Gavin Hunt and Roger de Sa hav­ing won the pre­vi­ous two editions, the R8m win­ner-takes-it-all com­pe­ti­tion will once again prove that “lo­cal is lekker”.

It is a sit­u­a­tion that should send South African foot­ball brim­ming with pride, the dom­i­nance of lo­cals on the elite league’s benches sug­gest­ing the heavy re­liance on for­eign ex­per­tise is fast di­min­ish­ing.

Hunt, the mul­ti­ple championship-win­ner who handed Bid­vest Wits their maiden league ti­tle in the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, be­gins the de­fence of his ti­tle with a pretty tricky en­counter at home against the fast-im­prov­ing Clin­ton Larsen of Golden Ar­rows.

The Clever Boys host Abafana Bes’thende on Fri­day night and while many will read­ily pick a home win, bet against Larsen lead­ing his men to a sur­prise suc­cess at your own peril.

Larsen, lest the memories have faded, is a coach who has pre­vi­ously won a cup com­pe­ti­tion – the Telkom Knock­out with Bloem­fontein Celtic over fan­cied Mamelodi Sun­downs back in 2012.

That he took Ar­rows to the Ned­bank Cup semi­fi­nal last sea­son tells the story of a coach who knows how to tackle knock­outs.

If the Hunt v Larsen clash is not as cut and dried, de­spite their hav­ing fin­ished at the po­lar op­po­sites (1st and last) of the top eight ‘ta­ble’, then the clash be­tween ‘debu­tant’ coaches Benni McCarthy of Cape Town City and Polok­wane City’s Bernard Molekwa should be even harder to pre­dict.

Bafana Bafana scor­ing le­gend McCarthy is in charge for the first time, hav­ing pre­vi­ously worked as an as­sis­tant in Bel­gium while Molekwa has been el­e­vated to the po­si­tion per­ma­nently hav­ing oc­cu­pied it in an act­ing ca­pac­ity.

City’s Telkom Knock­out suc­cess last sea­son and their third place fin­ish above a Polok­wane side that are mak­ing their top eight de­but would seem to sug­gest McCarthy will pre­vail.

But Molekwa has more knowl­edge of the PSL and is much more ex­pe­ri­enced hav­ing deputised for a num­ber of coaches in the past.

Their clash on Satur­day at the Cape Town Sta­dium will pro­vide a good test of the young coaches’ cre­den­tials and set the tone for their maiden sea­sons in charge.

The evening clash be­tween Kaizer Chiefs and Su­perS­port United will see a con­test that should be easy to pre­dict given the his­tory be­tween the coaches.

Eric Tin­kler, in only his third sea­son in charge as head coach, has gen­er­ally had the bet­ter of Steve Kom­phela and will be out to en­sure the sta­tus quo re­mains at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium. Un­like Kom­phela, Tin­kler al­ready has sil­ver­ware to his name, hav­ing led Cape Town City to Telkom Knock­out suc­cess last sea­son.

Kom­phela though can­not af­ford a poor start and cap­tur­ing the MTN8 will be up­per­most in his pri­or­i­ties for the sea­son, as he seeks to si­lence those who feel he is not wor­thy of the Amakhosi job after two bar­ren terms in charge.

He was in the fi­nal of the com­pe­ti­tion two sea­sons ago but was un­able to mo­ti­vate Chiefs as De Sa’s Ajax won 1-0.

Win­ning is some­thing Pitso Mosi­mane is ac­cus­tomed to. But the Sun­downs coach has yet to win the MTN8, al­though he won the com­pe­ti­tion with Su­perS­port United back in 2004 when it was un­der a dif­fer­ent spon­sor – SAA Supa8.

He has to get past debu­tant full­time coach Fadlu Davids of Mar­itzburg City at the first hurdle.

Who­ever goes through to the next round though, the fact that the tro­phy will be won by a lo­cal coach is great news for South African foot­ball.

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