great season of mixed fortunes

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The Premiership season that has just ended will go down in the history of South African soccer as one of the best after billions of rands were pumped into the sport.

There were a number of firsts, but SuperSport United winning the championship title was one of the greatest achievements.

Credit should go to Irvin Khoza and his executive committee for a job well done, which had made the PSL one of the most funded leagues globally.

While many soccer fanatics expected the standard to also improve with more money coming into the sport, there was not much to write home about on the field of play.

Many players seemed to take off their scoring boots when they approached the 18-yard area, which still makes their failure to score goals a serious cause for concern.

Even Bafana Bafana are struggling to score goals. Below we look at the ups and downs of all the 16 clubs in the Premiership this past season:

lSuperSport United

Credit goes to coach Gavin Hunt and the entire team for claiming their first ever Premiership title after it had eluded the club on three occasions.

Had it been at another club, Hunt would have been fired before the festive season recess as the team was among those in the relegation zone then.

When experienced campaigners like Phil Evans, Maimane Phiri, James Matola and the late Abram Raselemane left, United did not press panic buttons.

Players like Katlego Mashego, Fikru Tefera, Bongani Khumalo, Elias Pelembe and new kid on the block Kermit Eramus were outstanding.

Erasmus has since caught the attention of Dutch giants Feyernoord, who have offered him a three-year deal.

Seemingly, the popular Zion Christian Church cap religiously (pun intended) worn by assistant coach Thomas Madigage also played a helping hand.

They may have done well in the league, but the least said about them in cup competitions, the better.

lAjax Cape Town

One of the most consistent clubs this past season, fought all the way until the last game and finished second on the table.

When Craig Rosslee was elevated from development coach to the first team, many thought the Urban Warriors would struggle.

Ajax had key players like Clifford "Robot" Ngobeni and Nhlanhla Shabalala out of action for sometime due to injuries, but still managed to put up a competitive team.

Rosslee can afford to smile when he plans for the new season, knowing very well that there is a solid foundation laid. Ajax also faired badly in cup competitions.


Club chairman Goolam Allie owes top Botswana administrator Ashford Mamelodi a big thank you for recommending David Bright as coach of the team.

When Bright came on board in January, Santos were languishing at the bottom of the log with no hope that they were to escape the axe, let alone finish third on the log.

The former Botswana national coach with the rank of major from the army, did not make any changes to the team Santos had, but instilled discipline in approach.

Within a very short space of time, Erwin Isaacs and Eleazor Rodgers were the most talked about strikers in the Premiership.

The Major and his troops have reason to gear themselves for a brighter season, starting in August. Not a great season in cup competitions.

l Mamelodi Sundowns

Staged a dramatic comeback under Trott Moloto and Harris Chueu, who were appointed caretaker coach and assistant, after the dismissal of Gordon Igesund.

Finishing fourth was a great achievement for Moloto and Chueu, which could influence club owner Patrice Motsepe to give them another chance.

We all know that nothing will please Motsepe more than winning the African Champions League - it's his number one priority. Sundowns were eliminated in the Champions League by Sudan's Al-Hilal, but it was great to finish with a R6 million loot after winning the inaugural Nedbank Cup.

Their dream to conquer the continent is still alive as Sundowns will now play in the Confederations Cup (starting next month) after losing in the Champions League.

Besides Ke Yona, Sundowns also started the season with a bang by winning the Supa 8.

lFree State Stars

After gaining promotion from the First Division, some of us expected to find Ea Lla Koto at the base of the log after two or three months.

But Kinnah Phiri, their former coach now in charge of Malawi's national side, managed to retain the core of the team that campaigned in the First Division.

It was not surprising that for sometime during the season, Stars were consistently among the contenders for the championship title.

They sold top strikers Fanyana Dhladhla to Mamelodi Sundowns and Sifiso Vilakazi to Ajax Cape Town. But the other prolific strikers in Diyo Sibisi, seasoned campaigner Jimmy Khauleza and Sthembiso Ngcobo never disappointed.

Stars may also have not done well in competitions, but Phiri had definitely laid a solid foundation for new coach Duncan David from Ghana. Club owner Mike Mokoena is a happy man with a fifth spot finish.

lKaizer Chiefs

Much better compared to the previous season, where they finished ninth and were teased by many people that they were going to participate in the Super 14.

Their performance was characterised by too many draws, 13 to be specific. They were also not consistent, which led to a tongue-lashing from chairman Kaizer Motaung to the coaching staff.

Senior players like Cyril Nzama and Thabo Mooki look set to retire as coach Muhsin Ertugral doesn't seem to have space for them in his dream team.

But Motaung and Ertugral have smoked the peace pipe, which means the Turkish coach will still be in charge in the new season.

Pressure is on Ertugral and his technical team to ensure that Chiefs return to their winning ways in the new season.

The only silverware won by Chiefs this season was the Telkom Knockout, good enough for the once mighty Amakhosi to steal from Abdul Bhamjee's dictionary.

Itumeleng Khune was undoubtedly their star player.

lMoroka Swallows

It was not one of the best seasons for the once high-flying Dube Birds, but finishing seventh on the log is not bad at all.

Two individuals, James Chamanga and Sandile Ndlovu, were highly instrumental in helping Swallows finish well inside the top eight bracket.

But their defence was leaking - it conceded 41 goals this season. It won't come as a surprise for the management to start looking for a few younger players.

Maybe it's about time that their "senior citizen", Patrick Mabedi, is offered a job within the office or as a development coach.

They also did not do well in cup competitions, which should be a cause for concern for Sipho Xulu and their board of directors.

lOrlando Pirates

It was a season that chairman Irvin Khoza, The Ghost and some of their sympathisers would want to forget quickly after some embarrassing results.

No doubt Khoza will off-load a lot of deadwood in the team after completing the evaluation process of all the players.

It is still unbelievable that in December, Pirates were among the hot favourites to walk away with the R10 million first prize for the winners.

While it is a known fact that injuries and suspensions in a way destabilised their plans, Pirates had over 40 players.

Yours truly still can't understand why the young Oupa Manyisa from Jazzy Queen Legodi's Africa Youth Sports Academy was never given a chance.

Bucs almost finished the season outside the top eight bracket after a string of poor results in the last few games.

For a club celebrating their 70th anniversary, finishing the season on eighth spot, and nogal, without any silverware is embarrassing.

l Lamontville Golden Arrows

When lethal striker Mabhuti Khenyeza left for Chiefs, people thought that the club would go through a severe goal drought.

They started the season with a bang but were pathetic in the last games, which also saw them being taken out of the top eight bracket by Pirates.

But they have managed to produce a player for Bafana Bafana in Kagisho Dikgacoi, who has done tremendously well for the national team to date.

Papi Zothwane was also outstanding but was grounded by injuries towards the end of the season. Not much to say about them regarding cup competitions.

lPlatinum Stars

No doubt their 2-1 win over Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the African Champions League will be their best achievement this season.

After the departure of Owen Da Gama to Orlando Pirates, Stars roped in Miguel Gamondi and Cavann Johnson to lead the team.

The duo started well but started losing track as the season progressed.

Their problem is that they seem to play like men possessed against the so-called SA big guns.

Now that they have the Royal Bafokeng tribe as main shareholders, we hope Stars will no longer sell their top players for the sake of making money.

The Tycoons have great players in Stanley Kgatla, Dingaan Masanabo, Edward Williams and Simba Marumo.

A 10th place on the log for such a club with sound financial support is not good enough. Gamondi and Johnson will certainly have to deliver next season.

Just like Arrows, there is not much about Stars in cup competitions.

lBloemfontein Celtic

So it is true that sometimes players can determine the fate of a coach, is what Khabo Zondo should be saying to himself.

It is clear that some Phunya Sele Sele players did not want him to guide them and resorted to being casual in everything they did during games.

After Zondo was shown the door for a second time in less than two months, chairman Jimmy Augousti took over as caretaker coach.

Within a very short space of time, Celtic were the most exciting club and ultimately moved out of the relegation zone.

The sooner Celtic get a permanent coach the better, if they are serious about doing well in the new season.

Moses Spandeel and Petrus Mahlatsi were some of their trusted players during the season. Half a loaf is better than no bread, so ending 11th on the table was okay for them.

One of those clubs who got their season to a great start by winning the Telkom Charity Cup in Mmabatho after brushing aside Pirates and Chiefs.

lBidVest Wits

They recalled coach Roger De Sa, who refused to go down with them to the First Division after saying that the job needed someone streetwise enough.

Wits were up there when the season started, which must have impressed chairman Cyril Ramaphosa, whose mandate to them was to win the Premiership.

They also did not have a consistent team due to injuries and suspensions, which contributed to the 12th finish on the table.

It was not surprising that De Sa has began the rebuilding process by releasing players like Marco de Jesus, Teboho Mokoena and Nhlanhla Kubheka.

l AmaZulu

Usuthu faithfuls will be happy with their finish this past season, unlike the previous one where they ended 15th and had to participate in the dreaded Platinum play-offs.

After being in oblivion for sometime, veteran coach Clive Barker has been hailed as a saviour for their 13th position finish.

They might not have won a trophy, but their players Dumisani Ngwenya, Mpho Maleka and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi were impressive.

lThanda Royal Zulu

Must thank their gods that they will still be campaigning in the Premiership next season after the change of ownership shambles, which also led to confusion among the players.

After realising that the going was getting tough, the owners went into the transfer market in search of quality players like Serge "Mavusana" Djiehoua, Bernard Parker and Clement Mazibuko, to name but three.

They have Djiehoua to thank for the four goals he scored in the last two crucial games. The Ivorian striker scored 10 goals in the Premiership.

It remains to be seen if Gordon Igesund will be offered a permanent job within the technical staff after being brought in late in the season as a "consultant".

lBlack Leopards

If this team will survive the Premiership, chairman David Thidiela will have to start being patient with coaches - give them more time to settle down.

It goes without saying that the hiring and firing of coaches was the downfall of Lidoda Duvha, who will now participate in the Platinum play-offs.

Frenchman Paul Dolezar will certainly take over at the Limpopo outfit with the contract of Zimbabwean Shepard Murape not being renewed.

After consistently occupying the 16th spot on the log, Leopards staged a great escape in their last three games of the season to swop positions with Jomo Cosmos.

Leopards still have a chance of playing in the Premiership but will have to brush aside the opposition from the First Division.

Exciting players for them include Robert Ngambi and Myron Shongwe. As for cup competitions, Leopards achieved zilch too.

lJomo Cosmos

Failure to convert goals was the major downfall of Cosmos, who had assembled some of the best players on the land.

At one stage they went 10 games without scoring a single goal. On the other hand, they had one of the safest pair of hands in Avril Phali, who had a great season.

Not even recalling experienced Nkosinathi Nhleko from Norway was good enough to save them from automatic relegation to the First Division.

They scored a total of 13 goals, two short of their former striker Chris Katongo before he left for Denmark halfway through the season before.

It is the second time that Cosmos are relegated to the First Division.

The first time was in 1993, but they were back in the Premiership the following year.

Jomo Sono, Cosmos owner-coach, has shown that he is man enough, unlike many soccer administrators, by taking the blame for their relegation.

Sono made a mistake by relegating striker Anthony Laffor to the reserve side after discovering that the Liberian international signed a pre-contract with SuperSport United.

Not much to say about them in competitions too.

Individual awards

PSL Footballer of the Season

Teko Modise - I maintain that he deserves it, did well for the club despite their failure to win a single silverware.

Premiership Player of the Season

Elias Pelembe - SuperSport United - contributed to the success of his club winning the league

Premiership Coach of the Season

Gavin Hunt - Supersport United - well deserved achievement.

Awesome Goal of the Season

Siboniso Gaxa - SuperSport United - goal he scored against Mamelodi Sundowns was great.

But what message are we sending to James Chamanga, who scored 14 goals and took home R14000 - R1000 for each goal, considering that Gaxa was presented with R50000 for a single goal?

Goal Keeper of the Season

Itumeleng Khune - Kaizer Chiefs - he was simply the best.

Players' Player of the Season

Khune - great choice by his peers.

James Chamanga -Moroka Swallows - 14 goals

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