New signings, musical chairs, overseas training: it all adds up to a thrilling season

2012-07-26 00:00

IF the signings made by PSL clubs and the displays by AmaZulu and Ajax Cape Town against English soccer giants Manchester United are anything to go by, we are in for a thrilling football season.

After playing second fiddle to neighbours and bitter arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs have gone out of their way to see that they maintain their tag as the Glamour Boys of SA following one of their worst seasons in which they finished empty-handed.

Amakhosi have brought in highly experienced players in Siboniso Gaxa, Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Nkosi and rock-solid defender Mulomowandau Mathoho, who proved his worth with his first season at Bloemfontein Celtic and earned a Bafana Bafana call-up.

Pirates clinched their second treble for two seasons running.

To ensure that they stay in contention for all the silverware that is on offer this season, they have signed Zimbabwean Takesure Chinyama from Dynamos, brought back Lucas Thwala, Robin Johannes and other players who were on loan to several PSL and National First Division clubs.

Despite failure to lure Mathoho with big bucks, Mamelodi Sundowns continued to wave their chequebook as they brought on red-hot strikers Edward Manqele of Free State Stars and Eleazar Rogers from the relegated Santos.

They have also signed Tebogo Langerman, Thansanqa Sangweni, Ghanaian midfielder Emmanuel Baffour and Liberian international Mumuni Abubakar.

True to the promise of chairperson Brian Joffe that the club will seriously contest the trophies available this season, Bidvest Wits have not only plundered the market scene, they have named Spanish Antonio Lopez Habas as coach after sacking the under-achieving Roger De Sa.

They have roped in former Bafana Bafana skipper Aaron “Mbazo” Mokoena, Matthew Pattison, Mark Haskins and Ayo Oluwafemi.

There has also been a lot of musical chairs among players and coaching staff, with the most weird and surprising move being that of Bobbie Solomons, who left Santos and moved to Bloemfontein Celtic to take up the position of assistant coach to Clinton Larsen.

There have also been glimpses of what to expect this coming season with Chiefs beating Moroka Swallows 3-0 on their way to a penalty-shootout victory over Bidvest Wits to claim the inaugural Gauteng Challenge, while Pirates overcame Sundowns to lift the Mbombela Cup.

Travels by Swallows to China and Sundowns to Swaziland as part of their pre-season training, as well as the matches by AmaZulu and Ajax against Manchester United, are proof that PSL clubs are now really taking preparation seriously.

Chiefs, who have brought on board former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter as their mentor, and Pirates will have more opportunities to test their strengths when they meet in the Soweto derby in their fight for the second Carling Black Label Challenge.

Pirates won last year’s inaugural version.

Sundowns, Swallows and SuperSport United can still flex their muscles in the Mopani Mayoral Cup before the season opens.

However, as the old adage goes, clubs must be aware that money can’t buy you everything.

Sundowns have been proof of this after spending millions in the past few seasons only to finish without any trophies.

It would help for our clubs to take a leaf out of Barcelona’s book. The Spanish giants have invested $579,4 million (about R5 billion) in players over the past 10 years, and this investment has yielded 19 trophies.

These are interesting statistics that can serve as a lesson for PSL clubs.

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