Interesting times in SA soccer

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
So the African Nations Championship (CHAN) has come and gone leaving some bitter-sweet memories.

It is now history that Bafana Bafana disappointed once more.

A few congratulations are in order.

Well done to the Libyan players and their technical staff who overcame all the problems besetting their country to win their first major trophy and be crowned champions.

Another accolade goes to Zimbabwe who hoisted the Southern African flag high by finishing among the top four.

It will be an injustice not to mention Stephen Keshi whose Nigerian side finished third but showed a lot of promise and many young players raised their hand in contention for places in his final World Cup squad.

While expectations were running high that the South African Football Association (Safa) will soon wield the axe, with Gordon Igesund expected to be the first victim, all that President Danny Jordaan could say this week, was: “We have thrown away the drawing board and starting on a new slate.”

So the nation will have to wait and see what gets written on the new slate.

Hope we have put the tags of  “bunch of losers” and such behind us.

Now it’s back to the grind of the domestic Premier Soccer League (PSL) after a stop-start, start again.

Some clubs have strengthened their squads during the open-window period while other lost out and some just sat back and watched the drama.

Roger de Sa’s resignation as Orlando Pirates coach on the final day of the open-window period, stole the thunder from some of the big signings on the day.

This sent the rumour mill into overdrive as he was linked to coachless Ajax Cape Town, with some even vowing they had seen him having coffee with the Cape side’s top brass, while some have suggested that he might emerge as Iran’s assistant coach at the World Cup in Brazil.

There is also talk that he will become his old friend, Carlo Quiroz’s assistant as Bafana Bafana coach come the end of the World Cup.

The two have been joined in the hip for quite some time as De Sa – who just as Quiroz is a Mozambican-born Portuguese – occupied the same position when Quiroz was at the helm between 2000 and 2002.

An interesting scenario is developing in the race for the PSL. Kaizer Chiefs were leading the pack with 36 points before Wednesday night’s encounter against SuperSport United while AmaZulu jumped to the second spot with a 1-0 victory over Ajax on Tuesday night.

The result also saw league contenders Mamelodi Sundowns who had 25 points, drop to fourth on the log, ahead of their Wednesday night match against bottom of the log, Golden Arrows.

However Wednesday continued to produce an interesting game of musical chairs as Chiefs maintained an 11 points lead with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over SuperSport while Sundowns reclaimed second position with a 2-0 victory over Arrows that took them to 28 points.

AmaZulu dropped to third followed by SuperSport, Bidvest and then Pirates who as it has become common with clubs who have parted with their coaches, had come from behind to score a 2-1 victory over Bidvest on Tuesday under the tutelage of Eric Tinkler.

This lifted them to sixth on the log and ensures that they are still in the race for the title as they have played the least of matches than any of the 15 other clubs.

Pirates have played 12 matches while Chiefs and United have played 17, AmaZulu 18, Sundowns 15 and Wits 14.
All this, points out to an interesting race going forward.

It will be interesting to see how big signings such as Katlego Mphela at Chiefs and Thabo Nthethe at Sundowns adapt to their new surroundings.

It is still early to choose between the clubs gunning for the league title, but good money should be on Chiefs, Sundowns, Pirates, SuperSport ad Bidvest.

Can AmaZulu – who had a horrific start that nearly cost Craig Roslee his job - cause an upset? This will be answered at the end of the season.

Whatever happens, the way things are shaping up, we are in for an interesting home straight in the race for the league title.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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