Mpumalanga Black Aces are facing an early season crisis after they slumped to their third successive Absa Premiership defeat, going down 1-0 to Santos at the Puma Rugby Stadium in Witbank on Sunday.
Head coach Aki Ayiomamidis and his technical team had a meeting afterwards to try to establish what was going wrong.
There was an air of optimism this season after management virtually signed a new squad of players after narrowly avoiding relegation at the end of last season.
The next step for Ayiomamidis and his technical team would be to have a heart-to-heart talk with the players.
The bad news, however, is that due to the MTN8 semifinals and final plus the international Fifa date early next month, Aces will not have another fixture to set matters right until they meet rookies Vasco da Gama, at home on October 17.
The warning signs are there, and Aces are determined to get to the bottom of the problem, according to assistant coach Dumi Ngobe.
“We need to sit down and speak to the players and find out what is going wrong. We do not know what the problem is and we have to ask the players.
“If the technical team are making mistakes, they must speak up. If not we must get to the bottom of this bad slump.
“Now it is the time for the players to stand up and be counted.”
A good place for them to start is to look at why Aces create chances but fail to convert them into goals.
“We are making it tough for ourselves. We gave Santos an early Christmas present of three points and even when we got a penalty, we missed.
“It was not a good effort, but players miss penalties, so we are not blaming the player [Mpho Maleka] as it happens all the time.”
Ngobe was, however, annoyed at referee Buyile Gqubule awarding Santos a penalty in the 52nd minute when defender Marc Eberie pulled Erwin Isaacs’s jersey inside the penalty area.
“That was never a penalty, but then we wasted a chance to level when we got a penalty.”
Aces were due top play Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday in a league fixture, but that match was postponed due to the fact Pirates are playing Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 semifinal second leg at the FNB Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
Moroka Swallows play Ajax Cape Town in their Cup tie at Dobsonville on Saturday (3pm).
The Cup final will be played in Durban on October 2.
Aces are hoping the PSL will slot the postponed Pirates fixture in before October 17.
The week starting October 4 is a Fifa week. Bafana Bafana travel to Freetown to play Sierra Leone in an African Nations Cup qualifier on October 9. — Sapa