Mark Gleeson

Pirates worthy PSL champions

2011-05-23 08:45
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson
Saturday’s dramatic finish to the league title race brought down the curtain on a highly successful season after months of intrigue. It was a gripping affair almost from the start and kept all followers enthralled to the last.

Isaac Chansa’s goal at the Orlando Stadium was worthy of winning any championship, capping the high drama played out in Cape Town and Durban at the same time.

The season has been full of dramatic games, some of the best in years. Ajax Cape Town’s win over Kaizer Chiefs in January was a rip-roaring affair although ironically produced just a single goal from the penalty spot.

And you will have to go a long to see a match of the attacking enterprise that characterised the 4-4 thriller that Ajax played out with Mamelodi Sundowns in Atteridgeville.

It will be a hard act to follow next season, given just how much entertainment the Premier Soccer League provided this year. The derbies were drama-filled, Baroka FC a welcomed diversion and Thulani Serero deserved of the four-year contract he received yesterday in moving to Ajax Amsterdam.

The legacy of last year’s World Cup has been magnificent pitches and iconic venues, which have given the PSL an extra gloss. It is really now a top class international product, slavishly followed by millions.

South Africans have recognised this with increased attendances and the next step is for greater international recognition.

Of all the teams who had a chance to win the title, Orlando Pirates were always going to be the club with the best potential to take competing in next year’s African Champions League seriously.

There has not been the necessary commitment from South African clubs over the last year but if the PSL is to forge a place for itself, Pirates must now seek some success in the 2012 African Champions League.

To their credit, they were the last South African side to achieve anything on the continent with a semifinal place in the Champions League in 2006. To compete properly next year they must plan now, because players registered by the August deadline are the only ones they will be able to use for the first part of next year’s knockout competition.

They will need to decide on a coach too, Ruud Krol looks almost certain to go, despite his success. He did not have the complete backing from management who never seemed convinced in his methods and philosophy. But Krol has had the last laugh, with history now able to back up his controversial decision to sideline superstar Teko Modise because he felt he was not a requisite team player.

Would it not be deliciously ironic were Krol to land up at Mamelodi Sundowns next season?

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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