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27 Nov 2009 12:46
The defending champions have stuck to the basics and are well on their way to walking away with the league title for a third consecutive time. Halfway through the season the Matsatsantsa a Pitori have scored 35 goals and lost only one match.
Gavin Hunt certainly knows how to get the best out of his players.
But he is a hard worker at SuperSport and creates goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates. United play as a team and don’t rely only on strikers to score goals—everyone scores in the team. But their defence tends to lose concentration towards the end of matches—if that is not rectified they could encounter a team that will punish them.
The Buccaneers are the other realistic contenders for the league title. But can they win it? It is highly unlikely because they often drop points in crucial matches. Pirates coach Rudd Krol looks as though he’s still trying to find his first team—different combinations are introduced week in, week out. To their credit, the Sea Robbers are playing some exciting football and goalkeeper Moeneeb Joseph is in top form for both club and country.
Unfortunately, their star player, Teko Modise, hasn’t come to the party this season. Maybe he needs to come down to Earth, or perhaps he should be rested. Either way, he does not deserve to be in the starting 11. To be a realistic challenge to SuperSport, the Bucs should focus on their game rather than bank on other teams’ results.
With a new coach and several players who are still struggling to gel, it will take a serious miracle for Amakhosi to win the league. Inconsistency has been their worst enemy. If divine intervention doesn’t come their way, they will need more help from the referees to be crowned champions. As is the case with Bafana Bafana, Chiefs are struggling to score goals. On many occasions the central defence has been found wanting. Letting Fabian McCarthy go last season was a bad decision and will haunt Chiefs for seasons to come. The Soweto giant’s veteran goalkeeper, Arthur Bartman, has been the pillar of strength for Amakhosi. With Itumeleng Khune back from injury, it will be interesting to see which keeper coach Vladimir Verzemovic decides to use.
Free State Stars
Free State Stars are languishing at the bottom of the log. The side failed to pick up where former coach Steve Komphela left off at the beginning of the season. In the past two seasons Stars have finished in the top five, but that will not be the case this season, despite hiring Gordon Igesund to rescue the team. Yes, Igesund has won four league titles with different teams—but that was then. Stars will be fighting to avoid relegation until the end of season.
The MTN 8 champions should manage to finish in the top eight. Having won their first major trophy, this has been a good season for a team that plays entertaining football. Arrows haven’t seemed to miss their key players, Papi Zothwane (who went to Mamelodi Sundowns) and Kagiso Dikgacoi (whom Fulham snapped up), whom they lost at the beginning of the season.
As usual the students started well but halfway through the season they are beginning to stumble. Things are not looking good for Wits and they might not even make it into the top eight at the end of the season.
Ajax Cape Town
What a strong start for the Urban Warriors, who look set for a top-five finish. But this is another team that are inconsistent in their performances. As things stand in the log, the Warriors can draw their next four matches and win one. Cape Town could not have asked for a better showing from their clubs.
Usuthu are relegation material and their interest in this campaign is limited to fighting against going down. AmaZulu are back in familiar territory—the bottom. Except for last season, when they finished in the top eight, Usuthu are always in the murky waters of relegation. Coach Neil Tovey may have been a great player but he has failed to lift this club.
The league’s big spenders are slowly finding their rhythm. Players are starting to understand what coach Hristo Stoichkov wants from them. Like Chiefs, Sundowns also have a problem with inconsistency. Sundowns’ troops are often let down by their veteran goalkeeper, Brian Baloyi, who tends to concede soft goals. Still, they look like a team that could make SuperSport United sweat for the league title. With the money Patrice Motsepe splashes out on the transfer market, he will expect no less.
Another reason Cape Town can be proud. Boebie Solomons has turned things around at Santos. Commonly known as draw specialists, this has not been the case this season. The People’s Team can also easily challenge SuperSport United for the title. This season is shaping up to be the best in the history of the club.
Rich in history but poor on delivery. A top-eight finish will be a great achievement for the Dube Birds. Swallows players continue to treat matches against big teams seriously and those against small teams as practice sessions. Problems at the club’s board are starting to pass on to the team. Swallows should not have dumped Brazilian Julio Leal, who won the Nedbank Cup with the team.
United will be playing in the national first division next season. Gordon Igesund failed to get any good results and they have lured in former Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp. Last season United dumped Ian Palmer, who guided the team back into the Premiership. They are paying a heavy price for that.
After a bad start to the season the Tycoons have finally started to win some crucial matches and are playing entertaining and attacking football. Steve Komphela has a formidable team and should finish in the top eight. The tycoons will continue to cause upsets.
Owen da Gama has changed Celtic’s fortunes. Although they have not won anything yet, Celtic players have really upped their game this season. The team started the season on a high and should end it that way. The vocal Celtic supporters deserve no less for their unwavering support.
Mpumalanga Black Aces
Although they are languishing at the bottom of log, they might just survive through the play-offs. Black Aces don’t have much to offer in this league.
Cosmos will be relegated to the National First Division for good. Jomo Sono should stop being stingy and hire a coach who will do a better job than he does. He is the owner of the club and has other business interests, so he has nothing to lose. Jomo must look in the mirror and fire what he sees.
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