Mpumalanga Black Aces v Polokwane City, Saturday 22nd November 2014, 3pm

black aces

The PSL football teams in South Africa spread their games around a few different stadiums, a bit like the way that the county cricket teams in England used to do. Or maybe still do. A chance discovery that Mpumalanga Black Aces were hosting Polkwane City in KaNyamazane meant that Jen and I headed east along the N4 for the weekend.

It’s an enjoyable drive, or at least the looking out of the window part is. Once you get beyond Middleburg the road cuts through or drives over some pretty spectacular mountains. There were monkeys too, and there are very few situations that aren’t improved by having monkeys around.

Even better, babies too.

Even better, babies too.

We dropped our stuff off at a lodge on the way to the game. As with a lot of lodges in Mpumalanga, it overlooked a river. The one by the place that we’d stayed at a bit further along the road the previous week had hippos and crocodiles in, but this one didn‘t appear to have much more than a big carp and a few turtles. Maybe a pike or two might have livened things up a bit.

Last week's croc.

Last week’s croc.

KaNyamazane Stadium was easy enough to find, although the parking had been closed off and we had to leave the car in a back street. One of these days it’s not going to be there when we come out. The stadium is close to shops and a few roadside stalls so I imagine it’s fairly busy around there regardless of whether it’s a match day or not.

Last chance for a snack.

Last chance for a snack.

We’d bought our forty rand (£2.20) tickets in advance and so were able to bypass the scrum around the cash turnstile. It’s an easy enough system, you order them online and then pick them up at a the customer services section of a supermarket. In fact, you don’t actually need to order them, I do it out of habit, but you can turn up at the supermarket and just buy them there and then. It’s a little surprising to me that it hasn’t caught on in the UK.

Cash to the right, tickets to the left.

Cash to the right, tickets to the left.

Once inside, we sat on the open terrace opposite the covered main stand. It was in the sun, but with the kick-off being half past three, we were probably over the worst heat of the day. If it looked like rain we had the option of scurrying over to the other side of the pitch.

The view from our seats.

The view from our seats.

Black Aces were in an Everton style strip, whilst visitors Polokwane City wore a teal and orange combination, making it easy for me to favour the home team.

Genuine chances were scarce early on with Black Aces seemingly determined only to score from twenty man passing moves, whilst Polokwane limited themselves to shots from distance.

Polokwane park the bus.

Polokwane park the bus.

The biggest excitement came from an injured lino having to be replaced by the fourth official. The new bloke appeared to enjoy his enhanced role, signalling throws and corners with a dramatic flourish of the flag. Once again, the ref had a FIFA badge on his shirt. Either you can buy them at the sports shops, or there are a lot of international refs in Africa. Then again, maybe it’s the same fella reffing every game that we go to.

View to our right.

View to our right.

The second half started with a bang when within a minute of the re-start, Thobani Mncwango ran on to a ball over the top and turned his defender to put Polokwane a goal up. A few minutes later his teammate Puleng Dennis doubled their lead with one of those goals that just didn’t look right. Maybe there was a handball in there somewhere, perhaps it was offside, I don’t know. The Polokwane defenders didn’t seem to know either, they appealed for something, but as ‘looking a bit dodgy’ doesn’t contravene any of the laws of the game the goal had to stand.

The fifty or so Polokwane fans in the two thousand crowd had no doubts though and celebrated to the tune of the Kiss song Crazy Crazy Life.

The Polokwane fans play up for the cameras.

The Polokwane fans play up for the cameras.

The visitors had a few chances to finish the game off with a third goal but couldn’t take them. Five minutes from time Black Aces pulled one back but that was it and Polokwane held on for a two-one win. More importantly, our car was still there when we got out.

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