Early wobbles already detected for some PSL sides

2014-08-16 00:00

AFTER a woeful opening round of PSL fixtures last weekend in which only 12 goals were scored in eight matches, there was reason for optimism after the midweek games. In the eight matches spanning over Tuesday and Wednesday nights, 20 goals were scored. This is hopefully a sign of teams dusting off the pre-season rust and hitting their stride.

Wednesday night’s match at Harry Gwala Stadium was as exciting an affair as Pietermaritzburg has seen in recent times. It may have taken a player from each side being sent off, but the extra space that was a result of the red cards was welcomed by both sides.

It was pacey, riveting football, and though neither side was able to really capitalise on the countless chances that came their way, it still made for thrilling viewing. Maritzburg have long been a counter-attacking team, since the days of Ernst Middendorp that seem such a distant memory.

It seems that, under Steve Komphela, they are becoming masters of their trade. All they need now is to finish.

Bloem Celtic and Orlando Pirates shared four goals midweek, and there were no goalless draws anywhere in the country in round two — an obviously encouraging statistic.

It is obviously far too early to make any real assumptions — most of the sides have still not been able to field their foreign stars due to work permit issues — but already there are a few managers who will be sweating it.

Pitso Mosimane and Vladimir Vermezovic at Sundowns and Pirates respectively have stumbled through their first couple of fixtures and they won’t be allowed too many more slip-ups before serious questions are asked. Pirates supporters, in particular, will simply not tolerate another season where they do not challenge for league honours.

But closer to home it is the story of Craig Rosslee and a struggling AmaZulu that is the most intriguing. Usuthu have a talented group of players and an experienced technical support team. But at a pre-season press conference at Moses Mabhida Stadium earlier this month the club’s communications manager Lunga Sokhela shocked media in attendance when he said that the board of directors expected a top-four finish as well as a cup win from AmaZulu this season.

As it turns out, the media weren’t the only ones shocked and Rosslee himself sheepishly poured cold water on the sky-high ambitions.

It is crucial to aim high in a league that is incredibly competitive and a few bad results can leave a team suddenly hovering in dangerous territory. But while shooting for the stars may appear an attractive option and a quick remedy, it surely needs to be accompanied by a sense of realism.

Rosslee is a tough character and he will no doubt back himself to get back to winning ways soon enough. But one has to question whether or not the actions of Sokhela and the Usuthu board before a ball was kicked are likely to help or hinder that process.

We’ll know soon enough. Another round of midweek fixtures awaits, and AmaZulu are off to Pirates. Eish.

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