Cape Town - South African soccer is on the up and up and Wade Pretorius has the evidence to prove it!
While Bafana Bafana continue to struggle at international level, there is plenty of proof that suggests it won't be long until the national team reaps the benefit of an ever improving local league.
Last season saw Orlando Pirates make the finals of four cup competitions including the final of the CAF Champions League where they unfortunately lost out narrowly to the vastly experienced Egyptian side Al Ahly. There was enough continuity shown in last season's campaign to suggest the Sea Robbers will be a force to be reckoned with under coach Vladimir Vermezovic.
Both 2013/14 PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns and runners-up Kaizer Chiefs only lost five games in the league last season, they showed their dominance in the league which bodes well for the future as teams try to play catch up with the league's best.
The start to the 2014/15 local season has been action packed and filled with goals which has given fans enough reason to believe that the game in the country is on the way up.
Here are the SEVEN reasons that prove local soccer is on the rise:
1. The Soweto giants are back to their very best
Kaizer Chiefs are in the final of the MTN 8 and easily made their way to the top of the PSL table. Chiefs' coach Stuart Baxter has unleashed his team on the league with devastating effect to opposition hopes. Masango, Lebese, Maluleka, Masilela and Letsholonyane have all been outstanding so far this season and look unstoppable at the moment.
Despite a slow start to their league campaign, Pirates have done extremely well in the MTN 8 to advance to the final where they will play arch-rivals Chiefs. VV has the hard job of trying to fit both Kermit Erasmus and Lehlohonolo Majoro into his side. A problem which he no doubt enjoys. The Sea Robbers will be contending for the title come May next year.
2. Rise of the minnows
The PSL's less glamourous sides are proving more than a handful in the league and there is no better proof that Roger de Sa's young Ajax Cape Town side. Unbeaten after five games and second on the PSL table, it won't be long before the Urban Warriors fans start believing the unbelievable.
More proof of the rise of the so-called minnows is the struggles of SuperSport United. A "big" side that has come unstuck so far this season as after suffering four defeats in their opening five games and are now without a coach. The gap between top and bottom is shrinking. Fast!
3. Goals, lots of goals!
There have been an abundance of goals so far this season and it seems like the 2014/15 PSL season will be one remembered for the impact of strikers.
Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kermit Erasmus, Sthembiso Ngcobo (Bidvest Wits), Ndumiso Mabena (Platinum Stars), Mandla Masango and Puleng Tlolane (Polokwane City) have all been very impressive so far this season.
4. Despite the goals, there has been some brilliant defending on display
Kaizer Chiefs have only conceded one goal so far in the league while Ajax CT have only conceded three goals in five games. Wits, Bloem Celtic and AmaTuks are all conceding, on average, less than a goal a game.
The standout defenders so far this season are: Tefu Mashamaite (Kaizer Chiefs), Bevan Fransman (Bloemfontein Celtic), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Tashreeq Morris (Ajax Cape Town), and Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits).
5. Quality finishing has found its way back to the local league!There was a time when playing away from home in South Africa rarely produced a goal from the visiting side, let alone leaving with all three points.
6. Wonder moments like these:
7. No fear away from home
This sentiment no longer rings true after the events of Wednesday, August 27 when every single away team defeated their hosts.
Local football is on the rise!