'Why we are top of the table'
Posted: 2011-12-02 08:57
Not often do you see a bench with close to 100 international caps sitting there waiting to come on. But League leaders SuperSport United often have such a luxury.

Whether coach Gavin Hunt can use this depth in ability to win a fourth League title for the Tshwane club remains to be seen, but some of his players believe things are heading in the right direction.

Fresh from a 2-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane, Matsatsantsa are three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Premiership, yet players like Bryce Moon and Rowen Fernandez are remaining grounded.

"It's an honour to have seasoned professionals in our squad. It's good to be surrounded by them because most are older than me. I learn a lot from them," says Bryce Moon, a man with 18 Bafana Bafana caps to his name.

A few weeks back, when SuperSport played against Ajax Cape Town in the Mother City, Hunt sent his reserves on the night to warm-up and the experience on his bench was overwhelming.

Dipsy Selolwane, a veteran for Botswana, Fernandez (23 Bafana caps), Nasief Morris (37 Bafana caps), Mame Niang who has played for Senegal and Glen Salmon (3 Bafana caps) were the men on his bench that night.

"They know what is needed and our big strength is our squad rotation. We now have someone like Nasief [Morris] too, who really adds something to the list of players," Moon says.

"We know what to do for the title challenge, but we still need to apply this on the field."

Goalkeeper Fernandez has recently been playing a support role to 19-year-old Ronwen Williams who has found form and been given the opportunity to remain the starting keeper.

"Experience will always help a team out. Right now the team is doing well and riding a good wave. It's the responsibility of the more experienced players to keep the team headed in the right direction ... whether those players are playing or not they play a vital role within the team," Fernandez says.

"When things are going well it's easy to just brush small problems aside but when the wheels come off and there's a slip in form that's when the character of the experienced players will benefit the team.

"Gavin knows what he has at his disposal for his team and right now he has a good mix between youth and experience. Hopefully it's the mix that brings us success at the end of the campaign."

Consider that Morgan Gould has over 20 Bafana caps, Mogogi Gabonamong is a Botswana star, Sibusiso Zuma (67 Bafana caps) and that Anthony Laffor (Liberia) and Atusaye Nyondo (Malawi) are spearheading the attack – then you get a sense of the depth in this current side.

Africa’s Olympic gold rush relies on supporting cast

Africa's gold rush relies on supporting cast

Africa's gold rush relies on supporting cast

Posted: 2011-11-24 11:05
The start of the CAF qualifying tournament in Morocco this weekend is the latest step on the road to London 2012.

At present, six countries have secured their places at next year's Olympic football competition, and another eight teams will battle it out over the next fortnight for the right to represent Africa next year.

But while the continent has enjoyed enormous success in a competition that is viewed with contempt by many fans in the United Kingdom, the reluctance of European clubs to allow their players to compete in the qualifiers could mean the strongest countries don't even make it this time.

Since it became an Under-23 competition in 1992, Olympic football has been used by many countries as a useful stepping stone to full international football.

Africa's record of two Golds and a Silver in the last four tournaments is second only to South America in the same period, and the exposure on a global stage helped launch the careers of numerous superstars including Nigeria's Nwankwo Kanu and Samuel Eto'o from Cameroon.

This time, 2004 and 2008 Gold medal winners Argentina have already failed to make to London as Brazil and Uruguay beat them to it, but the weakened sides that will line up next week in Morocco may mean Africa's best chance of redressing the balance is lost.

Whereas Brazil could call on the ability of Santos striker Neymar and several European-based stars as they thrashed Uruguay 6-0 and booked their place in the 2011 South American Youth Championship that doubles as the Olympic qualifier, Nigeria were denied permission to use several key performers like VVV Venlo winger Ahmed Musa and captain Lukman Haruna from Dynamo Kiev.

Likewise, South Africa will attempt to emulate their only appearance at the Olympic football tournament at Sydney 2000 without the likes of Thulani Serero, Andile Jali and new Swedish Player of the Year May Mahlangu.

The stumbling block is that the tournament falls outside Fifa's international dates and coaches are left with little choice but to try their luck with the best they can muster.

It wasn't always like that. Nearly 12 years ago, Benni McCarthy and Aaron Mokoena – then of Celta Vigo and Ajax Amsterdam respectively – helped Amaglug-glug famously beat Brazil in the group stages, but still failed to make it out of their group.

Making it that far this may be a tall order for a squad that contains limited experience of playing overseas. Egypt and hosts Morocco will probably be the teams to beat, although the team that finishes fourth overall gets another chance to qualify in a playoff against an Asian side next year.

Whether anyone of Africa's best will be good enough to challenge favourites Brazil and Spain this time will depend on the strength of the supporting cast.

Lindile Ace Kika must get tSafa to sing in tun



Kika must get them to sing in tune

Kika must get them to sing in tune

Posted: 2011-11-21 10:54
It’s time for Safa’s director of national teams, Lindile ‘Ace’ Kika, to sing from his own hymnbook, beginning with the one that starts off: “We have to give our teams the utmost support ... when they prepare for matches everything must be in place.”

Soon after his appointment earlier this year, the Uitenhage-born administrator said his immediate aim was to get everybody involved with the national teams to sing from the same hymnsheet.

“We need to synchronise the working relationship between our various teams ... people must understand that although we all have specific tasks, we are building one car.”

Judging from the recent goings on involving national teams, it seems Kika’s choir is very much out of sync.

Let’s start off with Bafana’s proposed ‘not yet cast in stone’ international friendly against India that was purported to be taking place in Johannesburg in January.

The mere mention of playing India, who are ranked 170th in the world and have won only two of their last 11 internationals, was enough to get fans screaming that Safa were just wanting easy meat for Bafana.

The lead singer in the national team sector, coach Pitso Mosimane, says he is preparing for the match ‘just in case it materialises’. So he doesn’t really know what is happening at this stage and if he starts and things go wrong, like his Amaglug-glug counterpart Shakes Mashaba, he will be the fall guy.

Well, we can inform Mosimane, if Kika and his crew haven’t yet, that the match is very unlikely to take place because the Blue Tigers have a friendly against Germany’s Bayern Munich on January 10, three days after their ‘visit’ to South Africa.

So much for Kika’s statement that when a national team prepares for a match, “everything must be in place”.

Let’s move back to the Amaglug-glug fiasco that resulted in a war of words between PSL chairman Irvin Khoza and Mashaba. That one really hit a high note.

If you really analyse it, the root of the problem was that a mechanic working on Kika’s car put in a wrong part. That ‘someone’ changed the opposition from Senegal to Algeria, causing the car that Mashaba was driving to back fire, resulting in the coach blowing a valve.

“We currently have three national teams involved in international competitions, so it is not child’s play ... It’s a big challenge because all teams have their own dynamics, but I feel I am up for it,” said the former Border administrator at the beginning.

“It is always difficult when you are dealing with different people ... you have players, coaches, the public, sponsors as well as the media.”

Ace, we hear you, but we are also waiting for action: Get in there and kick some butt, especially the person or persons responsible for arranging fixtures. That’s the same problem area that got Sipho Nkumane fired.

I recall you telling the Semenya Commission some time back that there was “an urgent need for people to pour their hearts out on the damage done….. there are people who want to talk, but somebody is holding a machine gun or double barrel (shotgun) for them to keep quiet”.

Let’s hope no-one has a gun to you head …

STAT ATTACK: Rise and fall of Bafana

STAT ATTACK: Rise and fall of Bafana
Posted: 2011-11-16 16:19
When Bafana Bafana lost 2-1 to Zimbabwe on Tuesday night it was the country’s 86th defeat since re-admission to Fifa in 1992.

In total, Bafana have played 268 matches, winning 123, losing 86 and drawing 59.

Right through the years, South Africa have experienced more downs than ups, with the highest point obviously being the 1996 African Nations Cup victory under Clive Barker.

Played 7, Won 2, Lost 4, Draw 1, Goals/F 6, Goals/A 13
*Three friendly matches, two African Nations Cup qualifiers and two World Cup qualifiers.
Opposition: Cameroon (x3), Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville

Played 8, Won 3, Lost 2, Draw 3, Goals/F 7, Goals/A 9
*Two friendly matches, two World Cup qualifiers and four African Nations Cup qualifiers.
Opposition: Botswana, Nigeria, Congo Brazzaville, Mauritius (x2), Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mexico

Played 10, Won 5, Lost 2, Draw 3, Goals/F 9, Goals/A 6
*Four friendly matches, three African Nations Cup qualifiers and three Four Nations Cup matches.
Opposition: Zimbabwe, Zambia (x2), Australia (x2), Madagascar, Mauritius, Ghana, Cote’d Ivoire, Cameroon

Played 7, Won 4, Lost 0, Draw 3, Goals/F 13, Goals/A 6
*Three friendly matches, one Mandela Challenge and three Four Nations Cup matches.
Opposition: Lesotho, Argentina, Mozambique, Zambia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Germany

Played 13, Won 10, Lost 2, Draw 1, Goals/F 21, Goals/A 5
*Six African Nations Cup finals, three World Cup qualifiers, one Mandela Challenge and three Four Nations Cup matches.
Opposition: Cameroon, Angola, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana (x2), Tunisia, Brazil, Malawi (x2), Kenya, Australia, Zaire (now DRC)

Played 13, Won 3, Lost 8, Draw 2, Goals/F 14, Goals/A 21
*Five World Cup qualifiers, five friendly matches and three Confederations Cup matches.
Opposition: Zambia (x2), Congo Brazzaville (x2), Zaire, England, Holland, France, Germany, Brazil, Czech, UAU, Uruguay

Played 15, Won 5, Lost 4, Draw 6, Goals/F 19, Goals/A 20
*One Cosafa, six African Nations Cup finals, three friendly matches, three World Cup finals, one African Nations Cup qualifier and one Mandela Challenge
Opposition: Namibia (x2), Angola (x2), Cote’d Ivoire, Morocco, Zaire, Egypt (x2), Zambia, Argentina, Iceland, France, Denmark, Saudi Arabia

Played 14, Won 5, Lost 4, Draw 5, Goals/F 16, Goals/A 12
*Five African Nations Cup qualifiers, two Cosafa, four friendly matches, two Afro-Asian Cup matches and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Mauritius (x2), Botswana, Gabon (x2), Denmark, Trinidad & Tobacco, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Saudi Arabia (x2), Sweden

Played 19, Won 12, Lost 5, Draw 2, Goals/F 26, Goals/A 19
*Six African Nations Cup finals, three World Cup qualifiers, three Cosafa, one friendly, four Concacaf Gold Cup matches, two African Nations Cup qualifiers and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Gabon, DRC, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Lesotho (x2), Mauritius, Malta, USA, Mexico, Ireland, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Congo Brazzaville, France, Liberia

Played 14, Won 7, Lost 3, Draw 4, Goals/F 17, Goals/A 10
*Four African Nations Cup qualifiers, five World Cup qualifiers, two friendly matches, two Cosafa and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Mauritius (x2), Burkina Faso (x2), Malawi (x3), Italy, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sweden, Egypt

Played 24, Won 13, Lost 6, Draw 5, Goals/F 28, Goals/A 18
*Five friendly matches, two reunification Cup matches, three World Cup finals, four Cosafa, one Nations Cup qualifier, two Castle Lager Cup matches and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Angola, Burkina Faso (x2), Morocco, Mali, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Madagascar (x2), Scotland, Turkey, Paraguay, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Cote’d Ivoire, Malawi (x2), Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal

Played 11, Won 6, Lost 4, Draw 1, Goals/F 15, Goals/A 8
*Seven friendly matches, two Nations Cup qualifiers, one Cosafa and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Madagascar, Jamaica, England, Trinidad & Tobacco, Cote’d Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Costa Rica, Egypt, Tunisia

Played 13, Won 6, Lost 6, Draw 1, Goals/F 13, Goals/A 16
*One Cosafa, three friendly matches, three Nations Cup finals, five World Cup qualifiers and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Mauritius, Senegal, Benin, Nigeria (x2), Morocco, Cape Verde, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, DRC, Uganda

Played 16, Won 6, Lost 7, Draw 3, Goals/F 26, Goals/A 29
*Three friendly matches, three Cosafa, five World Cup/Nations Cup qualifiers, four Concacaf Gold Cup matches and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Australia, Seychelles, Mauritius, Uganda, Cape Verde, Ghana, Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, Zambia, Iceland, Burkina Faso, Germany, DRC, Senegal

Played 11, Won 4, Lost 5, Draw 2, Goals/F 5, Goals/A 7
*Three friendly matches, three Nations Cup finals, two Cosafa, two African Nations Cup and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Egypt, Guinea, Tunisia, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Congo Brazzaville, Zambia, Egypt

Played 14, Won 6, Lost 5, Draw 3, Goals/F 14, Goals/A 9
*Four African Nations Cup qualifiers, five friendly matches, four Cosafa and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Chad (x2), Mali, Mauritius, Congo Brazzaville, Scotland, Zambia (x2), Uruguay, Botswana, Italy, USA, Canada

Played 18, Won 9, Lost 5, Draw 4, Goals/F 27, Goals/A 18
*Eight friendly matches, three African Nations Cup finals, six (World Cup) Nations Cup qualifiers and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Mozambique, Botswana, Angola, Tunisia, Senegal, Paraguay, Nigeria (x2), Equatorial Guinea (x2), Sierra Leone (x2), Australia, Guinea, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon

Played 18, Won 5, Lost 10, Draw 3, Goals/F 10, Goals/A 19
*One Mandela Challenge, five Fifa Confederations Cup and 12 friendly matches.
Opposition: Zambia, Chile, Norway (x2), Portugal, Poland, Iraq, New Zealand, Spain (x2), Brazil, Serbia, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Madagascar, Iceland, Japan, Jamaica

Played 14, Won 8, Lost 2, Draw 4, Goals/F 21, Goals/A 8
*Three World Cup finals, one Mandela Challenge and eight friendly matches
Opposition: Korea DPR, Thailand, Bulgaria, Columbia, Guatamala, Denmark, Mexico, Uruguay, France, Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone, USA

Played 9, Won 4, Lost 2, Draw 3, Goals/F 10, Goals/A 5
*Four friendly matches, four African Nations Cup qualifiers and one Mandela Challenge.
Opposition: Kenya, Egypt (x2), Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sierra Leone, Cote’d Ivoire, Zimbabwe

Bafana Bafana player ratings

Bafana Bafana player ratings
Posted: 2011-11-13 09:04
KICK OFF rates Bafana Bafana players after playing to a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast in Saturday's Nelson Mandela Challenge in Port Elizabeth.

7 Moeneeb Josephs – ‘Slim Kat’ made a few crucial saves that kept Bafana in the game and, according to Pitso Mosimane, “He played a good game”.

6 Anele Ngcongca – his work-rate improved in the second half.

3 Tsepo Masilela – the Getafe defender struggled for pace during the opening 15 minutes when trying to keep up with Gervinho and came off shortly afterwards with a hamstring injury. “With an injury like that, he could be out for three to four weeks,” Mosimane said.

6 Morgan Gould – had a great header saved by Boubacar Barry in the first half and except for some nervy moments in the first half, the Matsatsantsa skipper kept a cool head.

6 Siyabonga Sangweni – his situation was similar to Gould.

*8 Kagisho Dikgacoi – ‘KG’ played an almost flawless game; he kept possession and appeared to always know his next move.

6 Reneilwe Letsholonyane – ‘Yeye’ was not really at his best, but not a terrible showing either.

6 Steven Pienaar – “He didn’t kick a ball for seven months so you could see he was not at his best,” Mosimane said. ‘Schillo’ was more often than not fouled by the Ivorians, which to some extent disrupted his normal game.

6 Daylon Claasen – stuck to the basics and combined well with Pienaar in some instances.

7 Siphiwe Tshabalala – a quiet first half and that could be attributed to the fact that he was playing on the right and being a left-footed player; perhaps his movements were restricted because he couldn’t turn with ease. But in the second half when playing on the left he ran the Ivorian right-back ragged. “The left side was very powerful with Shabba there in the last 20 minutes,” Mosimane commented.

6 Katlego Mphela – the fans got on his back in the first half, but ‘Killer’ replied the best way he knows how by scoring a great free-kick from some distance and guess who celebrated – the same fans who were booing him.

6 Siboniso Gaxa – never mind the own-goal, he held his own in an unfamiliar position at left-back after replacing Masilela in the 26th minute.

6 Oupa Manyisa – ‘Ace’ never gave up the fight in his 30 minutes on the park.

Thanduyise Khuboni – didn’t play enough for a rating after coming on for ‘Yeye’ in injury time.

George Maluleka – he didn’t play enough for a rating after replacing Pienaar in the fifth minute of injury time.

George Lebese – replaced Tshabalala and didn’t play enough for a rating.

Siyabonga Nontshinga – replaced Mphela and didn’t play enough for a rating. 

May Mahlangu continues to shine in Sweden

May’s Swede taste of success

Posted: 2011-11-08 13:28
The exploits of May Mahlangu in Sweden this week have got me thinking. Why do so many South Africans usually struggle when they go overseas?

The 22-year-old midfielder from the Mpumalanga province was the toast of the Allsvenskam after inspiring Helsingborgs to the League and Cup double, and picked up the Swedish Player of the Year Award on Monday night. Yet he was one of just a handful of the more than 20 eligible for Bafana Bafana selection who saw any action in Europe this past weekend.

Don't miss:
Mahlangu call-up mix-up
May Mahlangu may transfer to a bigger European team

Mahlangu's rise has gone under the radar for most observers after moving to Sweden nearly three years ago from the Stars of Africa academy in Johannesburg. But he has made a name for himself thousands of kilometres from home in a league that – although it may not be the most fashionable – will certainly attract the attention of bigger clubs.

It wasn't enough for him to be included in the latest Bafana squad to play Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe, even if Safa did cover their tracks by selecting him for the Under-23 squad this week.

Of the nine foreign-based players who did make Pitso Mosimane's squad, only Bevan Fransman, Anele Ngcongca, Daylon Claasen and Siboniso Gaxa have started more than 80 percent of their respective clubs' games this season in Israel and Belgium.

Again, neither league is rated among the elite and suggests that perhaps moving directly from the PSL to one of Europe's top leagues remains a bridge too far. Recent evidence in the cases of Bongani Khumalo and Thulani Serero seem to back this theory up given that both were outstanding performers in the domestic league before their high-profile switches to Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax Amsterdam respectively.

Khumalo spent his first two months in England training with superstars like Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale at the Spurs training ground before going on loan to struggling Preston North End. Injury curtailed a promising spell after the former SuperSport United captain looked like he had been finding his feet in the Championship and big things were expected of him when he joined Reading at the start of this season.

Yet he has failed to appear since the end of August, while Serero has seen his opportunities limited to cameos off the bench since moving to Holland in July. Injuries have not helped either player settle in, but there's no doubt the transition has been very tough for both.

Before Khumalo's move, Kagisho Dikgacoi proved just how hard it can be to make the leap as he spent two frustrating seasons with Fulham before moving to Crystal Palace. The midfielder now appears much more at home in south London but would be the first to admit the difficulties he has faced settling in.

Perhaps the examples of Mahlangu, Ngcongca and Lokeren's Ayanda Patosi, who all bypassed the PSL and headed straight for Europe as teenagers, gives players the best opportunity to succeed where so many have failed?

 African strikers aiming to top score in Europe

6 Africans after the Golden Boot

 Africans after the Golden Boot

Posted: 2011-10-14 10:51
A look at the six Africans who are in pursuit of the Golden Boot in Europe's finest leagues, in England, Germany, France and Netherlands.

African strikers are making their intentions clear in Europe. They contribute to their teams' performances, and score goals to keep their side going and thus strengthen their personal chances of capturing the golden boot awards.

Scoring is a fundamental part of the game and those who reach the summit of the goal charts set themselves apart and highlight their brilliance as players in a particular league and season.

A look at a few African players aiming to claim the golden boot in Europe’s finest leagues this season:

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Tottenham Hotspur)

The former Togo international has kept his critics at bay by proving that he has not lost his scoring touch. This, despite various club switches in recent times, including appearances for Real Madrid, Manchester City and now Tottenham, where he is on loan from the Blues. With three goals from four games, he will have to fill the gap between himself and the leader, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, who has managed to hit the back of the net nine times in six matches.

The 27-year-old is no stranger to the English Premier League and it will be interesting to see where he will finish on the goalscorers' chart at the end of the season.

DEMBA BA (Newcastle Utd)

The French-born Senegalese striker was fantastic against Blackburn, scoring a hat-trick that raised his goal tally to four in the English Premier League. This ensured Newcastle extended their unbeaten run, and gave the fans a new hero to cheer for in attack.

The 26-year-old finished last term with seven goals to his name with West Ham, but his blistering start with the Magpies suggests that the former Hoffenheim striker could improve on his own previous record before the term ends.

He was part of the Senegal team that beat Mauritius 2-0 over the weekend in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.


The 26-year-old is a Senegalese forward plying his trade with Freiburg in the German Bundesliga. So far, the former Metz attacker has managed six goals from his eight league appearances.

With a little effort, the player, who previously set a club and league record to earn the title of the most goals scored by an African in a single Bundesliga season after Ghana’s Anthony Yeboah, is likely to be in the running for the top-scorer award this term.


Ahmed Musa's move to VVV was highly publicised in his home country after a season in the Nigerian League that saw him break a 20-year-old scoring record for Kano Pillars.

Since moving to the Netherlands, Musa has become a consistent feature in the side’s attack, scoring three goals in six league games.

Musa bagged a brace in a 2-2 draw against Ajax at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, showing his intentions early on against the Amsterdam giants.


The Kenya national team captain has not only proven that he can provide assists, but he has also contributed his fair share of goals during this early part of Auxerre's Ligue 1 campaign.

He has featured in all nine matches for AJA, and in partnership with Alain Traore, they have bullied opposition defences in every single match they started as a pair. He is in the charts with four goals after scoring a hat-trick against Sochaux.


The Burkina Faso international has had an impressive run this season. After only nine matches, he has found the net six times for Auxerre. He managed to complete a brace against AC Ajaccio and currently leads the goal charts in Ligue 1.

The 22-year-old is on a mission and, should he maintain his form and zest, he could be one of the African players on this list to close the season with a golden boot.

Robin van Persie says he can score against anyone after hat-trick

Van Persie: 'I can score against anyone!'
Posted: 2011-10-31 15:25 Arsenal's Robin van Persie is full of confidence after his hat-trick in Arsenal’s 5-3 win away at Chelsea and feels he can score in every game he plays – against anybody.

The Dutch forward is on a fine run of form of late and believes it will continue, but he also paid tribute to his team's character coming back from behind twice at Stamford Bridge.

The Netherlands international has now scored nine in his last five matches, and on Saturday became this season’s top scorer in the Premier League with 10 goals. After returning from injury last November, the forward has gone on to record 33 goals in 37 fixtures this calendar year.

The striker believes he can score facing any opposition. He told the Mirror: "I feel I can score every time I go out on to the pitch.

"For me it’s just the best feeling to have. It doesn’t really matter against who we play, we always create chances so that means I always have a go. Then it’s up to me to score.

"I’ll miss chances, but I’ll score them as well. To have that feeling is one of the best things in life.”

The Gunners have put together a run of five successive victories since their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham, and have climbed to seventh in the Premier League while topping their Champions League group after beating Marseille away.

The on-form striker continued: "I think we’ve been having a good run for almost two months now. A bit quiet, not many people have noticed it.

"But we won eight games out of nine and to win this one sets a standard. Everyone realises we can now do it against any team."

After scoring Arsenal’s first goal on Saturday, he got two late strikes in the second half to win the match for the Gunners in a gripping encounter.

"It’s one of the craziest games I’ve been involved in," he confessed. "Eight goals says it all. They missed a couple of big chances and so did we. I had a feeling both teams could score from every angle, every minute of the game. Strange game, but fun as well.

“To score five goals here is a big achievement, and especially because we had to come back twice. Then 10 minutes before time they scored another equaliser. It’s very hard to regroup again and go for the fourth. Two big blows.

“But we did it, we came back and showed character. To score five goals at Stamford Bridge is a big thing, we can be very proud.”