SuperSport and Ajax teach the rest a lesson

Regardless of how they fare in this weekend’s final matches of the football season, SuperSport United and Ajax Cape Town have a lot to be proud of.

Both have had a season made in heaven. Considering that both lost influential coaches—SuperSport’s Pitso Mosimane joined the national team brains trust and Ajax’s Muhsin Ertugral went to Kaizer Chiefs—they were expected to struggle.

It appears, though, that nobody told Ajax’s Craig Roslee about this expectation as his young side went off like a sprinter on steroids as soon as the season started.

Gavin Hunt struggled to find his footing at United and at any other club—any that had more than 1 000 supporters—both fans and management would have made his life a living hell. SuperSport persevered.
Today they and Ajax will represent South Africa in the Confederation of African Football Champion’s League at the beginning of 2009.

Santos, who are entangled with Mamelodi Sundowns for the Confederations Cup berth (for teams finishing third), have had a season to be proud of. Relegation candidates midway through the season, they should be reasonably assured that they have the coach, the team and the wherewithal to go all the way next season.

Thanda Royal Zulu need at least a point and hope that Kaizer Chiefs’s late-season revival continues when Amakhosi meet Black Leopards. If Thanda get the point they want from their match against Cosmos they will pray that Chiefs do not lose by more than one goal, to ensure that the KwaZulu-Natal club escapes the chop and sends Leopards into the playoffs for next season’s league.

At the other end of the table Jomo Sono finally got his just deserts for what many fans have considered arrogance, parsimoniousness, or both, which made him believe that he could be everything from owner and coach to player agent for his club, Jomo Cosmos. Cosmos have been relegated, for the second time in their 21-year history.

The last time this happened Sono sold the bulk of his squad to Orlando Pirates, who went on to use that axed team to win their first National Soccer League (as it was then called) championship in 1995.

Pirates, who have had their worst season in the Premier Soccer League, will hope that that the heartbreak of Sono, their former favourite son, will be a positive omen for the two-time champions, as it was back then, when the likes of Helman Mkhalele, Linda Buthelezi, Innocent Mcwango and Eugene Zwane were shipped off to the Buccaneers.

Pirates chair Irvin Khoza, whose sentimental attachment sometimes makes him more like a wealthy fan than an astute administrator, might want to sign Bhamuza Sono—making him the fourth Sono to play for the team after his grandfather, father and uncle donned the black and white.

Free State, in their first season since returning to the top league, have had a reasonable season and were at one stage among the log leaders. Platinum Stars will point to their win over African football powerhouses as the highlight of their season and can expect to be more competitive next year.

But whatever other clubs decide to do for the new season, Ajax and SuperSport have set a benchmark and a lesson to everyone: football rewards patience and discernment.

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