17 January 2018 – With the New Year well and truly under way, we take a quick look back at 2017 which was a very interesting year in the world of football and some would agree that it was one of the more exciting years for the beautiful game in modern times.

The main focus of the year was always going to be the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Yes Bafana Bafana failed to make it to the biggest show on earth but there was still drama aplenty across the globe.

The likes of Panama and Iceland both qualified for the first time in their histories as both countries prove what a solid development plan (such as Vision 2022) can do for any football nation. Iceland are the smallest country to qualify with a population of a mere 330 000. We all remember what they did to England don’t we?

Egypt and Peru will also make their long awaited returns while heavyweights the Netherlands and former champions Italy both failed to make the cut, along with the likes of Chile, America, Cameroon and Ghana.

France, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium and Germany remain the favourites to lift the coveted cup in Russia.

In Europe, Real Madrid once again reigned supreme with a their third Champions League crown in four years and also managed to claim the double with yet another La Liga title. They rounded of the year in style with the FIFA Club World Cup title.

On the South African front, Wits University under the astute stewardship of Gavin Hunt, claimed their maiden PSL title while in Africa, Wydad AC tasted CAF Champions League success.

Individually, Cristiano Ronaldo claimed the Balloon D’Or award for the best footballer on the planet while the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Kaka all retired.

Mind-blowing facts:

  • Neymar made headlines by becoming the most expensive football transfer of all time as he left Barcelona for Paris for a whopping €222 million followed by the second highest ever: Ousmane Dembele (€105 million from Borrusia Dortmund to Barcelona).
  • Barcelona’s 6-5 aggregate victory over PSG in the Champions League round of 16 was yet another mind-blowing fact, as the Catalans became the first ever team to overturn a ‘first-leg, four goal’ deficit.’

Interesting Statistics – 2017

Top Goal-Scorers:

56 | Harry Kane (52 games, 1.08 goals per game)

54 | Lionel Messi | (63, 0.84)

53 | Robert Lewandowski (55, 0.96)

53 | Cristiano Ronaldo (59, 0.89)

53 | Edinson Cavani (62, 0.85)

One of the more interesting stats that came out of last year was a comparison between the two best players in the world : Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (as always, you can make up your own mind):

Lionel Messi   Cristiano Ronaldo
Appearances Assists Goals Goals Assists Appearances
64 16 54 Club & Country 53 13 60
57 16 50 Club 42 9 49
7 0 4 Country 11 4 11

On the South African front, here are a few statistics in two of the country’s premier cup competitions:

MTN 8 – Top Goal Scorers Telkom Knockout – Top Goal Scorers
James Keene (Bidvest Wits) 2 A Gamal (Bidvest Wits) 3
Bradley Grobler (Supersport United) 1 R Ndou (Polokwane City 3
Dean Furman (Supersport United) 1 James Keene (Bidvest Wits) 2
Ayanda Patosi (Cape Town City) 1 T Mabaso (Bloemfontein Celtic) 2

2017 was a great year for world football but 2018 promises to be even better. Buckle your seatbelts; it’s bound to be a rollercoaster ride!

By Dhirshan Gobind