Flicks and tricks have always been met with mixed feelings in South Africa, largely depending on your view of how the game should be played.
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'Showboating' or 'skill' is something that has been ironed out of the South African game due to European coaching influences in the PSL as well as the recognition that, when not done in the proper situation, it does not serve the purpose of football.
But I would argue that what Rakhale did on Tuesday night, in the 90th minute when his team was 2-0 up, was not childish or immature or disrespectful. In fact, it was all about psychology.
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Any footballer knows that when you are chasing a game and your opponent makes you run after the ball to win it back, it can be incredibly frustrating. Eventually defenders will lose their composure and put in a rash tackle, giving away a free-kick that wastes more time and puts his team further on the back foot.
It can be argued that this is what Rakhale was doing last night. It is similar to the way Barcelona or Spain pass the ball around when leading – it is meant to tire out opponents both physically and mentally.
Let's be fair. Chippa were nowhere in the game and were never going to come back, so if there is to be a criticism of Rakhale, it would be that he wasn't picking on somebody his own size; Chippa were an easy target.
But, if he or any other player had done that in a more important game – in the same context to frustrate opponents – and he did not lose the ball or put his team at a disadvantage, I would applaud him. What strengthens Rakhale's case is that he made a real impact down the left side prior to that, embarrassing Gert Barends on one occasion and putting in a few decent crosses to create more chances for Pirates.
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In the recent Soweto Derby, Reneilwe Letsholonyane was hailed by Kaizer Chiefs fans after he won the ball back from Rakhale – who had just shown some skill to beat two Pirates players – and then did some taunting of his own to put the youngster in his place.
It's something the fans love to see, a battle of skill and supremacy in the middle of the pitch, although many coaches will not see it that way. 'Yeye' eventually kicked the ball out of play after that piece of skill, so it led to nothing other than perhaps a little message to Rakhale that he still has a long way to go in his career.
Letsholonyane, one of the most disciplined and professional players we have, wasn't showboating either; I prefer to believe he was simply trying to impart some wisdom to Rakhale, even if it was still 0-0 and it led to nothing. As long as this tendency doesn't pre-occupy a player's intentions, there is nothing wrong with it in my opinion.
There is a long-running debate that natural South African skill is being ripped from the game, along with our 'football identity'. (In a country with as many different cultures as we have, I don't even want to touch this issue as this 'football identity' is simply not true of all South Africans.)
But I put it to you that there is a place for showboating in football, as long as it is done in the right way.
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