Mark Gleeson

Title race down to the wire

2011-05-09 07:18
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson
Does no one want to win this league title? After almost nine month of absorbing league action we are none the wiser as to who will take the championship, yet again forced to wait until the final day before the league trophy is handed over.

Of the four sides chasing the championship, only Ajax Cape Town had any chance of securing success this past Saturday in the penultimate round of matches.

But how they blew it, cowered by nerves, overwhelmed by the occasion. For all the silky moments of football they have provided us this season, when it came to the crunch they were given a large dollop of their own medicine.

It was a majestic Kaizer Chiefs performance as they romped to a 4-0 win. But where was the same aptitude, indeed interest, just a fortnight ago when the AmaKhosi were humiliated by amateurs Baroka FC at the same venue.

Chiefs will now rue the points they carelessly dropped in a series of five successive draws, plus the folly of some of their earlier season results, including a home defeat to Vasco da Gama. 

How is it that Chiefs only seem capable of turning it on in the big games, as they did in the first derby against Pirates last November, in December’s Telkom Knockout final and again this past weekend? When the play like that they look like champions but are patently incapable of doing it consistently enough to win the league.

Chiefs do not have the mental fortitude, the rigour and the discipline to be champions. On their day they can be the best team in the country but like show ponies only trot out their stuff on selected occasions. Chiefs’ support is declining by the year such is the fans’ frustration with their inconsistency.

Orlando Pirates had plenty of good fortune through the season, as evidenced by the number of games in which they sneaked a vital injury time goal to either win or avoid defeat.

Saturday’s late equaliser against Santos keeps them alive in the championship but other games where they got late goals – and vital points – came against AmaZulu, Celtic, Chiefs and Wits.

You could argue they are a side who keep on playing right to the death and therefore deserve their spoils but they are also a side who scrambled and scrapped their way through the season, rarely offering any imperious dominance of any opponent.

They never had the air of champions about them and one point from their last two games emphasises how they too are remarkably inconsistent.

In terms of talent, Mamelodi Sundowns had the pick of the players, but when they missed out on the chance of going seven points clear at the mid point of the season, their owner panicked and fired the coach. It continued a growing tradition of shooting themselves in the foot.

Pockets of money can buy the best players but not common sense.

It has been a thrilling season with all the changes at the top of the table but ultimately will the league winner be the best team or rather the side that best held its nerve?

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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