What’s keeping Jomo Cosmos at the bottom?

We are playing with a lot of kids who are younger than 21. They are learning, but we can’t stay too long in the NFD ~ BackpagePix
We are playing with a lot of kids who are younger than 21. They are learning, but we can’t stay too long in the NFD ~ BackpagePix

Jomo Cosmos have repeatedly come close to dropping out of the second-tier NDF, and their struggles continue.

Ezenkosi recently marked the 37th year since they were founded by club owner Jomo “Mjomana” Sono in January 1983, but there hasn’t been much to celebrate lately, even though Sono said they planned to commemorate the milestone.

Many football fans are wondering what happened to one of South Africa’s most prominent professional football clubs.

Cosmos haven’t shown any signs of untangling themselves from their downward spiral since the 2017/18 season, which was the last time Sono’s beloved team came anywhere close to returning to the elite league since their relegation to the NFD four years ago.

Sono said that creating a team from scratch almost every season was the main reason they were struggling to get promoted to the PSL.

“We are playing with a lot of kids who are younger than 21. They are learning, but we can’t stay too long in the NFD,” said Sono this week, adding that their woes were worsened by the poor standard of refereeing in the NFD.

The 64-year-old had initially targeted at least a play-off berth this season, but he soon realised that it was an almost impossible task based on Cosmos’ 14th spot on the log.

Only second- and third-placed sides qualify for the PSL promotional play-offs, while the NFD champions gain an automatic elevation to the premier division.

“If we can’t make the play-offs, we can build for next season,” said Sono, whose side needs more than 15 points from their remaining 10 league matches to equal the points haul already amassed by other promotion hopefuls – second-placed Uthongathi FC (36 points) and Moroka Swallows in third place (34 points).

Swallows have just recovered from their stint in the wilderness, a setback that some fear might befall Cosmos, who, since the rebranding and restructuring of South African professional football in 1996, were once part of the top 10 teams in the country.

The word ‘survival’ has become synonymous with Cosmos since their first relegation in the PSL era 12 years ago.

Ezenkosi were relegated three times between 2007 and 2012, but, remarkably, they still found their way back to the PSL on all those occasions.

They soon ran out of luck and they have now been languishing in the NFD since relegation in 2016.

Last season, Cosmos’ free-fall almost plunged them into the third-tier ABC Motsepe League, but they evaded the axe by a single point in a campaign in which Mpumalanga’s old club Witbank Spurs went down alongside Ubuntu Cape Town.

It seems like the distant past when Ezenkosi were gradually establishing themselves as “cup specialists” – they annexed the now defunct Coca-Cola Cup twice, as well as the SAA Supa 8 (now the MTN8) trophies between 2000 and 2005. This was in addition to the team’s back-to-back fourth-place finishes during the 2000/01 and 2001/02 campaigns.

The 2005 Coca-Cola Cup triumph was achieved under the threat of relegation.

Cosmos continue to prove that teams that struggle in the league seem to progress in cup competitions. Ezenkosi have earned regular qualification in the Nedbank Cup – except in 2017 – while campaigning in the NFD.

This afternoon, Sono and his charges face ABC Motsepe League campaigners Hungry Lions in the Nedbank Ke Yona Cup Last 16 round at Olën Park Stadium in Potchefstroom.

The amateurs from Postmasburg in the Northern Cape have former Bloemfontein Celtic winger Moses Spandeel (39) in their ranks, and they currently top their provincial log, where they are unbeaten in 16 matches.


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