Triumphant BidVest Wits coach Roger de Sa is not going to rest on his laurels and is determined to continue rebuilding his side after guiding his Students to their first knockout trophy in 15 years when they caned AmaZulu 3-0 in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday.
It was the final curtain on a difficult season due to next month’s Soccer World Cup.
The real winners, however, were the fans and the magnificent Soccer City. A staggering 71 956 fans paid to watch this first match at the new home of South African soccer between two of the smaller, lesser supported Absa Premiership clubs.
It showed local fans are getting into the World Cup fever. They were all part of an historic day as this was the official opening of the purpose-built, multi-billion rand stadium which will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies at the tournament.
Bafana Bafana open the global showpiece when they face Mexico on June 11.
Both coaches Roger de Sa and Usuthu’s Neil Tovey lavished praise on the new stadium.
“Simply amazing,” enthused De Sa. On the incredible atmosphere Tovey said: ‘It was electric … brilliant.” They also agreed the new pitch was in mint condition.
The happy De Sa has promised his victorious players “at least 50%” of the R6-million winner purse to be shared among them.
“I will be meeting with the bosses on Monday. But the players can expect a minimum of half of the R6-million if not more.”
First taste of success
This was De Sa’s first trophy as a coach. He won this same competition with Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns as a goalkeeper.
Goals from Fabricio Rodrigues and two in injury time from Sifiso Vilakazi sunk AmaZulu. Second half substitute Rodrigues was named Man of the Match while better performances came from his teammates Michael Morton, Vilakazi, Shakes Tshbangu and Sifiso Myeni.
De Sa confirmed he had signed midfielder Larry Cohen from relegated Jomo Cosmos and defender Kampamba Chintu from AmaZulu for
next season but he is after more new blood.
“My priority is to sign a top class striker. I will promote another four youngsters from our academy for next season. Wits have a strong youth policy which we saw against AmaZulu is paying dividends and I will continue with it.”
Usuthu coach Neil Tovey was disappointed afterwards but was the first to congratulate Wits.
“We did not come to the party today. We wasted too many chances and that cost us.
“I am not looking for excuses. The problem was that some of the players simply did not show up on the day. But, having said that, I am proud of the players’ efforts this year. If somebody had told me at the start of the season we would reach two semifinals and a cup final and not battle relegation, I would not have believed them.
“We have done wonders with a young squad and we will get better next season. My goal this season was to consolidate our league position and win a cup. We came so close to winning this cup,” said Tovey.
‘Next season is the big test’
Meanwhile, Premier Soccer League CEO Kjetil Siem said he was happy with the season which was a test for the league officials, clubs and players to have the Premiership finished by early March in order to allow Bafana to have two training camps in Brazil and Germany in preparation for the World Cup.
“The next season [2010/11] will be the big test where we will need to stay focused and maintain the high standards we have set.
“We have now a legacy of world class stadiums and need to keep filling them. We can no longer complain that we do not have proper venues.”
Getting in and out of the stadium was a nightmare and a wake up call to World Cup organisers with less than three weeks to go before the global showpiece.
Traffic control and poor signage on roads leading to and from the stadium made it a shambles. Fans were stuck for hours in gridlocked traffic jams.
Siem apologised for the traffic chaos outside the stadium which forced him to delay the kick-off by 30 minutes.
“On Saturday we had road works in a lot of areas which affected traffic flow to the stadium. It was beyond our control. Inside the stadium there were no reported problems.” — Sapa