Absa Premiership

Facing a bleak Christmas

2016-12-18 06:01
Gordon Igesund has not made a good start at Highlands Park. (Themba Makofane)

Johannesburg - Seven days from today (Sunday), the world will celebrate Christmas, but for some, there will not be anything to be jolly about.

It will be a quiet period for many football supporters. Although the first half of the season is behind us, there is not much to write home about.

For Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters, it will be a time to retreat to their own little spaces.

Mamelodi Sundowns supporters will also not be as vocal as they were before their trip to Japan following their club’s humiliation at the Fifa Club World Cup.

While some coaches will have a festive time with their families, the Christmas break will come as a temporary relief to coaches such as Steve Komphela, Gordon Igesund, Cavin Johnson, Kgoloko Thobejane and Giovanni Solinas.

The five will have a lot going on in their minds as they do not know what the new year will usher in, or whether they will still be employed or not.

Clubs will use the break to search for new players – and maybe coaches too – for the final stretch of the season.

After going nine games without a win in all competitions, Komphela and his Chiefs supporters are going through a lean spell and face a bleak Christmas.

Although they could still turn things around in the last two fixtures of the year, they would want to see the back of this year.

Chiefs welcome high-riding Polokwane City at FNB on Sunday afternoon before visiting Golden Arrows on Wednesday in their last game of the year.

Amakhosi won just four of their last 13 league games and unless they can engineer a major fightback in the second round of the campaign, they will endure a second season without a trophy.

Although not too far off from the early pace-setters, Chiefs’ undoing has been playing six draws, which means they dropped 12 points.

This has put Komphela under tremendous pressure and time is not on his side to start collecting points. But just one victory could change things around and set him on the path to greater things again.

However, fourth-placed City will be no pushovers. The Polokwane side has now gone five matches without a loss.

Igesund, who replaced Allan Freese at Highlands Park earlier in the season, has struggled to turn the team’s fortunes around. The former Bafana Bafana coach was expected to bring stability to the side but has so far failed to do so with just a single win under his belt in nine league matches.

The 2-0 loss to Chippa United on Saturday was Igesund’s third.

Thobejane also finds himself in deep trouble as Baroka are languishing at the bottom of the log.

Baroka have found that life in the Premiership is not as rosy as they thought. This has been an eye-opener for them as they have only won two out of 13 games.

Platinum Stars might not be known for firing coaches, but Johnson should be well aware that only positive results will extend his stay.

Solinas might have come as a replacement for Denis Lavagne at Free State Stars, but that does not guarantee a stay of execution – only results will. The Italian needs to build on their 1-0 midweek victory over Baroka if he is to survive the chop.

Pirates followers are impatiently waiting to hear whether they will have a new coach in the new year to replace caretaker coach Augusto Palacios. While they thought the departure of Muhsin Ertugral would bring joy, this has not been the case as they have won just two of their six league games since then.

Sundowns will hope to bounce back when they visit out-of-sorts Baroka on Thursday.

The Brazilians have not rested this year, owing to their involvement in the CAF Champions League and will only get a break after Thursday's game.

It has been a long and extended season for them, but well worth it as they already have two trophies this year.

The players will welcome the break, but another demanding year awaits as they play catch-up games and also try to defend their CAF title.

If the first round of fixtures is anything to go by, the second round should be even more entertaining.


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Tuesday, 03 April 2018
Wits v Maritzburg United, Bidvest Stadium 19:30
AmaZulu FC v Ajax Cape Town, King Zwelithini Stadium 19:30
Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Free State Stars v Kaizer Chiefs, Goble Park 18:00
Cape Town City FC v Golden Arrows, Cape Town Stadium 19:30
Mamelodi Sundowns v Chippa United, Loftus Versfeld Stadium 19:30
Polokwane City v SuperSport United, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
Orlando Pirates v Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Stadium 19:30
Platinum Stars v Baroka FC, Royal Bafokeng Stadium 19:30
Friday, 06 April 2018
Ajax Cape Town v Wits, Athlone Stadium 20:00
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