Absa Premiership

A season of tenacity and failure

2018-05-20 10:30
Percy Tau and Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Aside from the off-field drama, this has been a season of quality, quantity and setbacks in South African soccer. 

Until the last game of the season, it was not clear who would contest the promotion play-offs or even go down to the National First Division. The matter was only settled after the last game when Ajax Cape Town were confirmed as the side to contest the play-offs.

But then the ongoing Tendai Ndoro eligibility saga threw a spanner in the works when an arbitrator found The Urban Warriors guilty and docked points, meaning they were automatically relegated and replaced in the play-offs by Platinum Stars, who had finished at the bottom of the log.

But Ndorogate should not take away from the fact that this was a season to remember in many ways.

Pitso Mosimane inspired Mamelodi Sundowns to their eighth league title, while Bidvest Wits were not too clever this time as they surrendered the title without a fight.

Best achievers

Without a doubt, Sundowns were the top achievers for the season following their league triumph.

Despite competing on the continent in the CAF Champions League, Mosimane was also able to keep the home fires burning after wrestling the title he had lost last season to Bidvest Wits back to Chloorkop.

It must be noted that the Brazilians are the only remaining South African side in continental club competitions after Wits, Cape Town City and SuperSport United failed to make it to the group stages.

There is no way you can talk about Sundowns and not mention Percy Tau in the same breath.

Tau has been a live wire in the Downs team and their best performer of the season. It would be an injustice if he did not make a clean sweep at the Premier Soccer League awards ceremony later this month.

Fadlu Davids is another top achiever after he guided Maritzburg United to fourth on the league table. Davids proved he is the real deal in his first full season as a coach and deserves all the credit for United’s revival.

Under Davids, the Team of Choice played an entertaining brand of football, with the likes of Fortune Makaringe, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Lebohang Maboe marvels to watch.

He also guided them to yesterday’s Nedbank Cup final against Free State Stars.

Orlando Pirates’ return to the CAF Champions League is a big milestone, considering where they previously finished on the log.

In fact, they did not even make the top eight last season, but all that changed with the arrival of Milutin Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwena in the technical team.

Flops

It has to be Gavin Hunt and his Wits team who moved from champions to chumps.

A lot was expected from last season’s champions, but they found it difficult to put up a good fight to defend their title.

It shows that previously winning the title was just a fluke. Wits promised a lot in the off season – bringing in the likes of Steven Pienaar, Daylon Claasen, Thato Thlone and Slavko Damjanovic – but achieved little. Suffice to say Pienaar, Thlone and Damjanovic have since left the club.

Although they lifted the Telkom Knockout trophy, it was little consolation considering their budget and salary packages.

Kaizer Chiefs are also in the same boat. Going three seasons without silverware is unheard of at Amakhosi and, believe it or not, this is what they went through. Their standards have dropped so drastically that they even consider finishing third as an achievement.

Strikers seem to have run out of scoring steam as the numbers are dwindling.

This will surely go down as the worst goal-drought season in the history of the league.

Having joint top scorers – Percy Tau and Rodney Ramagalela – on
11 goals is not something to be proud of.

Worst moments

Chiefs’ supporters invading the field and assaulting security personnel will go down as the worst moment of the season.

A week after they were fined R200 000, Amakhosi supporters were at it again – damaging property at Moses Mabhida Stadium following their loss to Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup.

Ndoro’s case is another unwanted piece of history in our football story. Five months since it was first reported, the case is still hanging over us.

Read more on:    absa premiership  |  soccer
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Fixtures
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Maritzburg United v Chippa United, Harry Gwala Stadium 19:30
Highlands Park v AmaZulu, Makhulong Stadium 19:30
Polokwane City v Cape Town City, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Bloemfontein Celtic v SuperSport United, Dr Molemela Stadium 19:30
Black Leopards v Mamelodi Sundowns, Thohoyandou Stadium 19:30
Friday, 30 November 2018
Chippa United v AmaZulu, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 20:00
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