Will this season in the ABSA Premiership be more exciting?

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

Johannesburg - The previous Absa Premiership season was quite fascinating and it will be interesting to see what the current one brings.

Note the word ‘fascinating’ as opposed to ‘entertaining’.

READ: No radio broadcast for PSL fixtures this season

Football, by nature and the world over, has a tendency to have leagues dominated by one or a few clubs.

In years gone by, especially in the 1970s, which were the infant years of black professional football in South Africa, it was a given that, at the end of any season, the spoils would be shared between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

This dominance led to the notion that a South African football final without the two teams, or at least one of them, was no final at all.

Many, especially the neutrals, will see last season’s spread of trophies – Mamelodi Sundowns won the league, SuperSport United took the MTN8 and Free State Stars claimed the Nedbank Cup, which is South Africa’s version of England’s tradition-steeped FA Cup – as a good sign of a power shift.

However, those who swear by the Buccaneers’ skull and crossbones, and Amakhosi’s black and gold will tend to disagree.

To them, this is a sign of how their once mighty clubs have fallen.

That Chiefs and Pirates have gone three seasons without any silverware is unheard of in South African football.

I still remember a comment by the late Lawrence “Big Bear” Ngubane when, in 1995, the Sea Robbers annexed their first league title in 23 years.

The wily administrator, who had been brought in by the Iron Duke of South African football, Irvin Khoza, for the main purpose of helping the club win the league title, said a club as big as Pirates should win the league at least once every three years.

The likes of Ewert “The Lip” Nene and China Ngema must be turning in their graves to see Chiefs go such a long time without any trophy.

As always, there are two sides to a coin.

Some would say that the other clubs have woken up and caught up with the once dominant Soweto giants.

However, there are those who might argue that Chiefs and Pirates’ dominance of the 1970s, 1980s and part of the 1990s led to a lull and they, to borrow boxing parlance, dropped their guard.

This argument may go further to say that the two teams are now finding it difficult to catch up with their more unfancied counterparts, despite still enjoying the lion’s share of all sponsorship money available to South African football.

This brings me to a conversation I once had with then England national team manager Terry Venables.

I asked the man who coached England from 1994 to 1996 and led them to the 1996 Uefa European Football Championship semifinals why his country had underperformed at World Cup level since winning it in 1966.

His answer was that, as the country that gave the world the game of football, England had rested on their laurels after the 1966 win and, by the time they woke up, most countries were way ahead in the game of the pigskin.

I guess they are still trying to catch up, given that they just failed in the semifinals at the recently completed World Cup in Russia.

Coming back to the local game, could the league become more exciting if Chiefs and Pirates were to go back to their days of domination?

Will we see Free State Stars and SuperSport build up and add to the cups they won last season?

Are we going to see new and different clubs win trophies this season?

Which of the above scenarios would be more interesting?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but, as a football lover, I would love nothing more than to see this season be more exciting and entertaining than the previous one.

I urge our strikers to also help us see the net bulge more times than it did in this past season.

May the best team win at the end of the season!

Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku

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Tue 24 Nov 20 19:30 PM (SAST)
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