The Telkom Knockout competition gets underway this weekend with a couple of mouth watering clashes across the country, but one is tempted to ask why the tele-communication company is offering so little prize money when the recently ended MTN Eight offers 50% more?
Not that MTN themselves are offering a fortune, but at least in order to win the MTN 8 Cup competition, Cape Town City played a total of four matches and took home R8-m. And the Telkom Knockout which is marketed as “Ziwa Mo!” also entails engaging in an equal number of four matches yet the champions merely take home a paltry R4-m.
But it is not just about the knockout competitions and the rewards that follow. It is perhaps time that the authorities re-looked the compensation for participating in what we all agree is the most vibrant and commercially successful league championships across Africa.
The other day, even Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane also questioned the logic behind playing a marathon 30 league matches and yet take home R10-m, which has been on offer for almost a decade now since ABSA became the headline sponsors.
But without sounding ungrateful about the outlay by the country’s huge corporations because their support is crucial for the growth and development of football, surely the time has come for the authorities and the sponsors to re-looked the decision to reward achieving teams a little bit more in today’s economic trying times.
I would have expected the prize money for the league championship to have increased at least to R12.5-m after five years and maybe R15-m or just to generate even more interest and competition among clubs, increase it to a whooping R20-m by now.
There are almost eight teams in the Premier League that do not have headline sponsors and are financially struggling to keep their clubs running smoothly and unable to fulfill their wage demands as the monthly grants they receive from the PSL are merely a drop in the ocean.
But the show goes on and Mamelodi Sundowns, ravaged by injuries to key players and still trying to find rhythm in their strike combination following the departure of Khama Billiat and Percy Tau, now have to deal with the absence of Sibusiso Vilakazi when they line-up against Bloemfontein Celtic in Atteridgeville.
Vilakazi’s Achilles tendon raptured while on national duty with Bafana Bafana is well documented while Rivaldo Coetzee, Thapelo Morena, Cuthbert Malajila and Katlego Otladisa will also not be part of the team as they are nursing an assortment of injuries as well.
Kaizer Chiefs, a team that has earned the nickname of being the “Cup Kings” of South African football, have gone through an embarrassing dry spell for the last three years and it seems like they are still going to experienced an even extended dry period.
There has been visible signs that they are recovering, but a horrible and career threatening injury to Joseph Molangoane, Eric Mathoho, Leonardo Castro and the fact that star performer Khama Billiat has received a knock on national duty last week provides a gloomy outlook ahead of their tie against Black Leopards.
In addition, Lebo Manyama was involved in a horrific car accident over the weekend and his arm is encased in a plaster as they go toe-to-toe against a Leopards outfit that can be dangerous on their day.
There is a lot of concern about the inconsistency displayed by Orlando Pirates in spite of the quality at their disposal but they need to get it right against Chippa United side known for their ability to keep possession and hurt opponents with their wing play.
TELKOM CUP FIXTURES
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Bloemfontein Celtic
Kaizer Chiefs vs Black Leopards
Maritzburg United vs Highlands Park
AmaZulu vs Cape Town City
Free State Stars vs Bidvest Wits
Polokwane City vs SuperSport United
Baroka vs Lamontville Golden Arrows
Orlando Pirates vs Chippa United