Arrows to miss out on the glitz, glamour

2014-05-08 00:00

THE National First Division (NFD) is a dark place, far away from the money and glamour that accompanies the PSL, but that is exactly where Lamontville Golden Arrows are heading following what has been a disastrous 2013/14 campaign.

Arrows were relegated from the PSL on Tuesday night when they went down 1-0 to AmaZulu at Princess Magogo Stadium, a result that has left Shaun Bartlett’s men bottom of the log and five points behind Free State Stars with one round of fixtures remaining.

Bartlett and Bheka Phakati took over the reins at Arrows as caretaker managers following the sacking of Englishman Mark Harrison in February.

It has been a campaign to forget for the Umlazi-based franchise, whose combination of defensive frailties and a lack of firepower in front of goal was always going to make things difficult.

For former Bafana Bafana striker Bartlett, the problems at the club have been brewing for some time.

“There are so many things [wrong], not one particular thing,” he said following his side’s defeat on Tuesday. “It is not something that just happened this season. We took over when the team were already in dire straights and we did our best.”

The coach added that one of his toughest challenges in his bid for PSL survival since taking over was to get the players mentally prepared for the battle that lay ahead of them.

“You need to be mentally strong to stay in this league,” he said.

“Some players still don’t realise what has happened. The reality is that a lot of these players will have to look for jobs now, and that is what I kept telling them. The contracts they have are PSL contracts, not NFD contracts. You can’t earn the same salary in the NFD.”

On his own future at the club, Bart­lett was evasive, though he did not rule out the possibility of staying on in the NFD.

“Relegation was never part of my thinking. I have to sit down with the owner [Mato Madlala] and see what her plans are and then we will make a decision,” he said. “I have worked with these players now for the past five months and I am more than happy to do it again. I’ve built a relationship with most of them. But we have to get players in who want to do well for this club, and I felt that there wasn’t enough of that.”

On his side’s performance on Tuesday night, Bartlett was unsurprised.

“I don’t think it’s a game we deserved to lose, but that has been the story of our season,” he said.

“Unfortunately for all of the possession we’ve had and all of the games that we have dominated, if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net you can’t win games. And that is the case again tonight [Tuesday].

“That is probably why we find ourselves at the bottom of the log.”

The Arrows dressing room could not have been a happy place to be at 9.30 pm on Tuesday night, though Bartlett did try to encourage the players after the match.

“I thanked them and congratulated them for the effort that they had put in throughout the season,” he said. “But everybody is gutted.”

Arrows will be playing for nothing but pride when they travel to Orlando Pirates on Saturday afternoon in what is their last PSL match for some time. How long exactly is up to how the club responds to life in the NFD.

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