Mabhida manager denies preferential treatment
Posted: 17 November 2018 Time: 20:00
Moses Mabhida Stadium manager Vusi Mazibuko insists the venue does not receive preferential treatment from footballing authorities and says they aim to stage 15 games in a year.
Mazibuko has previously pointed out the Durban-based ground enjoys competitive advantages in regularly getting the nod for big matches ahead of the likes of Cape Town Stadium and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, such as the MTN8 final between SuperSport United and Cape Town City on September 29.
This season Mabhida has also hosted the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals between Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu, and Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport on November 3 and 4 respectively.
With FNB Stadium unavailable for the TKO semi between Chiefs and Pirates, Mabhida was further selected to stage the marquee fixture on November 24.
Besides being used by PSL sides AmaZulu, Golden Arrows and Amakhosi, Mabhida enjoys additional prominence on the international front.
Mabhida hosted Bafana's 2019 AFCON qualifier with Libya in September and provides the setting for Tuesday's Nelson Mandela Challenge contest with Paraguay, having also hosted a friendly with Guinea Bissau in March 2017 and a FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier with Cape Verde in September last year.
Mazibuko has provided insight into how Mabhia goes about their business.
"Like I said, we have not been done a favour, we have positioned this stadium as the venue of choice for mega events," Mazibuko tells KickOff.com
"We said all of our [smaller] games must go to smaller stadiums; your Golden Arrows [to KwaMashu's Princess Magogo Stadium], AmaZulu games [to Umlazi's King
Zwelithini Stadium], and all the big games are at the Moses Mabhida, and that is part of our strategy.
"We said we need two PSL matches ... that is finals per season. We need two PSL matches per season, we need two Bafana matches per season, we need three Kaizer Chiefs league matches per season.
"If Arrows and AmaZulu were to give us three matches each, those games are enough for Mabhida the whole season. Because the number of games I'm talking about they equal the number of games if you have a home team, so that's how we work it out.
"So we don't wait for the PSL to tell us to bring proposals. What we do at the beginning of the year, we look at the calendar, we ask them for dates, and we block those dates even before they call knowing who's going to be in the final or not. We don't wait to see if Chiefs or Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns are in the final, we don't wait.
"We then say ours is category A matches, finals are category A matches ... that is in terms of our planning which includes many things. Even if we are not going to get the final by the way, we would have booked that final as if it was coming to Mabhida, because we don't want the situation where the PSL is looking for a venue and we can't have it
"So we are prepared to take those risks because we know what we want. So we were not done a favour, it's part of our strategy. In fact, we are going to be more aggressive going forward because the talk that Durban is always getting finals is working to our disadvantage, because people are talking as if there's something that we are doing wrong.
"I always say this, if you have a class, right, and in the class you have a student that always get As and another student doesn't get As, you can't go and
punish the student for getting As. So it’s like we are now being punished for planning well, for doing well, for having a competitive advantage over others.
"We are not doing anything wrong. We are just being proactive, we are strategic and we are going to be aggressive in doing these things going forward because we want this content. We know others want it. If they want it they must raise their hands and let's compete, that is it."
Mazibuko also dismissed talk that the City of eThekwini pays Bafana's hotel bills when they come play at Mabhida. Bafana typically book into the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, while they camped out at the Hilton Hotel last time they were in Durban.
"They booked their own hotels," Mazibuko says.
He adds: "Bafana is a national asset. When you are a national asset we don't want the situation where only when Bafana is doing well others will want it. Once they start playing well, they want Bafana. But we want Bafana whether they're playing well or not, because we understand what is the national agenda.
"Two, you must also understand that the national team must have a support base that is consistent and people in Durban have always been consistent. If you have been in those matches that Bafana plays, which you have been, it is the only stadium where you are guaranteed a Mexican wave, irrespective of the number of spectators, because the vibe, the support is there.
"So we don't buy that content. We speak to SAFA and then we say let's work mutually on what do you want and we work on that, and we deliver what they want.
"It is why I'm saying we are going to be aggressive in this because there's nothing wrong with what we are doing. All that we are doing is to ensure that the stadium is functional and doesn't just have football, but has category A and quality."
By Robin-Duke Madlala