As a black, African man who knows all too well about the existence of black magic – or boloyi, in our blunt African language – something tells me I’m witnessing it again in our local football.

Watching the dethroned kings of South African football, Mamelodi Sundowns, in the last few months has exposed me to an interesting series of events. If you’ll remember well, The Brazilians crashed out of the Nedbank Cup after losing to Golden Arrows, drew their first CAF Champions League group stage match against sleep-inducing opposition in Ethiopia’s Saint George SC, and relinquished their status as the league’s champions, in the last two months – all at the Lucas ‘Masterpieces’ Moripe stadium in Tshwane.

Something tells me I’m witnessing boloyi again in our local football.

The pathetic excuse for football they’ve displayed at that ground in those two months has also been an eyesore and has justified all of the events mentioned above. But what I find interesting is the stark contrast in their performances when compared to when they played at Loftus Versfeld, a ground they last played in in late April. By the way, Loftus is the same stadium at which they won their maiden CAF Super Cup before hammering rivals, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United 6-0 and 5-0 respectively.

I also noticed how they were able to grind out results in difficult matches there, like when they scored in the last minute to beat Bidvest Wits, who later went on to win the premiership, 2-0, and when they saw off a stubborn Ajax Cape Town by the same score-line after being frustrated for 67 minutes.

But ever since they turned their back on the multi-sport stadium, for whatever reason, things have gone south. And to prove my theory about Lucas Moripe stadium being a hoodoo venue for The Brazilians, they in fact have been able to get a few impressive results on the road while they’ve struggled to win at home.

An example is when they avenged for the Nedbank Cup loss to Arrows by beating them convincingly in Durban, the 2-0 win coming just twenty days after losing to the same team at home, before taking the short trip to Soweto to beat Pirates by the same score. Though we all know Pirates weren’t anything close to convincing the entire season, but the point is it was still Pirates they were beating, away from home, while keeping a clean sheet.

Further evidence that the much spoken about fatigue hasn’t had that much damaging effect is how, as recent as two weeks ago, they travelled all the way to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo to beat AS Vita Club 3-1 in their second Group C match of the Champions League. But how they couldn’t beat a then relegation-threatened Baroka FC at home remains a mystery!

But how they couldn’t beat a then relegation-threatened Baroka FC remains a mystery!

But if you’re still not convinced about the power of the juju, as it’s known in the Hausa language of Nigeria, then here’s another interesting fact: Sundowns hasn’t won any of their last five games played in the Atteridgeville stadium – they’ve played four draws and lost once – while winning the last three of the four on the road, matches that were played in-between those played at home.

All of this is proof, I think, that indeed juju works like magic.




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