PSL

PSL’s highs and lows

2017-06-11 06:12
Coach Gavin Hunt celebrated as Wits took the PSL title. (Sydney Seshibedi, Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - It has been a dramatic Absa Premiership season full of twists and turns at the top, middle and bottom of the log, with Bidvest Wits eventually emerging as champions to take home their maiden Premiership title.

If someone had said the Students would be crowned the Premier Soccer League champions with a game to spare at the start of the season, not many would have believed it. But they achieved it, despite being pushed hard to the finish line.

There have been brilliant goals, memorable matches and wonderful performances, as well as some controversial moments and outbursts.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane kept us entertained with his comments, which did not go down well with some, and Steve Komphela took us back to school – we sometimes needed dictionaries to figure out what he was really saying.

Own enemy

Coaches came and went, but life went on. For some, it was a season to forget, while others will cherish it for some time to come.

Kaizer Chiefs ran out of ideas and Sundowns faded when it mattered most, while Orlando Pirates were disastrous and fell apart. Cape Town City let the title slip into Wits’ hands, and at the bottom of the log, the damage was all self-inflicted by Highlands Park and Baroka FC.

Free State Stars nearly paid the price for almost selling their status at the beginning of the season. Baroka seem not to have learnt how to run a professional outfit and they kept repeating mistakes that could have cost them their Premiership status. Chippa United came close to being their own enemy when they sent coach Dan Malesela on indefinite leave, but fortunately reacted quickly and brought him back.

Best moments

One was when SuperSport United and Sundowns both put six goals past Pirates, which defined the Buccaneers’ season. Who can ever forget Oscarine Masuluke’s overhead kick goal?

And obviously, the Students lifting the title will go down in the history books as their best moment so far.

Worst moment

Pirates’ supporters storming the field when Sundowns were running riot at Loftus Versfeld in November left South African football tarnished.

Coach of the season: Gavin Hunt

Was there anybody else? Yes, Eric Tinkler came close, but lost it in the end to the championship winner. Under Hunt, Wits have progressed every season from two third finishes to runners up and now champions. And he did this without breaking the bank because most of the players joined as free agents.

A special mention should go to Tinkler, who took Cape Town City to third on the log. He will give others a run for their money next season.

Most improved team: Polokwane City

Going from being perennial relegation candidates to finishing sixth on the log is quite an achievement by any team, especially in such a competitive league.

Despite their much publicised issues with coach Luc Eymael, City deserve to be commended.

Fall from grace: Orlando Pirates

Pirates were the epitome of underachievement this season. No top-eight competition next season and nothing to brag about – this has been a season to forget. But they have a chance to salvage something as they head into the Nedbank Cup final on June 24.

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Fixtures
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Free State Stars v Chippa United, Goble Park 18:00
AmaZulu FC v Kaizer Chiefs, King Zwelithini Stadium 19:30
Polokwane City v Maritzburg United, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
Platinum Stars v Bloemfontein Celtic, Royal Bafokeng Stadium 19:30
Saturday, 25 November 2017
Maritzburg United v Wits, Harry Gwala Stadium 15:30
SuperSport United v Polokwane City, Lucas Moripe Stadium 15:30
Chippa United v Mamelodi Sundowns, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 15:30
Kaizer Chiefs v Free State Stars, Moses Mabhida Stadium 18:00
Ajax Cape Town v AmaZulu FC, Athlone Stadium 20:15
Golden Arrows v Cape Town City FC, Princess Magogo Stadium 20:15
Sunday, 26 November 2017
Bloemfontein Celtic v Orlando Pirates, Dr Molemela Stadium 15:30
Baroka FC v Platinum Stars, Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:30
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The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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