Pirates in rough seas, but ship is not sinking

Sipho Mthembu

Sipho Mthembu

They are languishing fourth from the bottom of the table and talk already abounds about Orlando Pirates campaigning in the Mvela Golden League next season.

Polls in which supporters vote mainly with their hearts rather than heads also see Pirates as leading candidates for the chop come the end of the season.

Some even suggest the Mvela perimeter advertising board that photographers captured flying in a gust of wind at the abandoned midweek game against Black Leopards at Ellis Park is an omen, but is it a realistic assessment?

Pirates have five games in hand over their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who are on 28 points, and if they win all of them, they will jump to the same number of points, 28, which sees Amakhosi in the second spot, a point behind leaders Silver Stars.

I know most will dismiss that argument as impossible, and I am also fully aware that points in the bag are far better than games in hand, but I insist it is possible. I am not suggesting I possess the power to forecast, but it is simple arithmetic.

We cannot say for sure that it will or will not happen, but that also applies to all other teams in the league, including those in the top half of the table.

The argument here is, is it the right time to scream fire when there are so many mathematical possibilities open?

Things happen in football, which was proven when pacesetters Bidvest Wits lost 4-0 to Jomo Cosmos.

I feel that it will only be fair to compare Pirates with other teams, not on the basis of the points they are on, but on the number of points that teams, especially those in the top half of the table, had collected when they were on the same number of games.

Should "the Ghost" succumb to alarmists and subject their club to all kinds of pressures, or must they just be realistic and support their favourite team through these perceived challenging times?

Fact is, after two years of finishing as runners-up, in which they missed the championship by a whisker, the Bucs management - obviously tired of being bridesmaids - decided on a part rebuilding process.

The knowledgeable and hard-working Milutin Sredojevic found himself at the right place at the wrong time, having to infuse no less than 13 new players after almost the same number of players were released from the team.

It was obviously not going to be an easy job because the number of new recruits increased by five more during the Christmas break.

At great sacrifice to his own career, perhaps, coupled by the bravery of his then technical director Bibey Mutombo, Sredojevic threw new, supposedly more hungry players into the deep end.

He started the game against Bloemfontein Celtic with three new faces in Bongani Cashibe, Bennet Chenene and Jorry Merahe.

Mulondo Sikhwivhilu had only played one locked-out game against Wits before then.

Any football punter will tell you there are bound to be teething problems, but is it time to press the panic button?