The league race
With nine games and 27 points hanging tantalisingly on offer, it seems the penultimate stages of the current league season will resemble nothing but a titanic battle of guts and wits.
Undoubtedly, only the strong will survive a marathon race that has reflected a typical emotion sapping journey all familiar to the local soccer world.
From the first kickoff, the league has seen many teams enjoying the summit of the league albeit temporarily to confirm that the race has indeed been a tough one. A closer look thus far will reflect that the meager difference in points between the fourth and the first teams has been reason for fluctuating changes over time.
Whilst the battle rages at the top, the same could be said about the dreaded relegation zone where contenders are drawing on their last breath to fight for survival. Again the difference in points play a major role whose outcomes will be determined when the final whistle drops the curtain on this drama filled race.
To date, our experience has been a ding-dong emotional escapade considering the chances that slipped out of our grip when we had our opponents pinned for the taking on many occasion. Our Achilles heals and that of many teams has always been our blunt canines at the many crucial times when opposition were just helplessly lying in wait to be fatally wounded. Again this is every player, administrator and supporters’ nightmare when the team flows with expression but is unfortunate to translate that into the crucial goal-scoring ingredient needed to lift any silverware on offer.
The recent midweek clash against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Peter Mokaba Stadium is a true reflection of the misfortunes we had in the season thus far. As though this was the last, we saw a repeat of that nature against Golden Arrows in a match whose win could have clearly set us up as a looming threat in the leading peck of four.
Whilst we were happy to bag all maximum points, I believe Celtic and other teams literally survived an onslaught that could have otherwise turned our table in the process. The game was undoubtedly one sided with our lads dictating proceeding for longer times and turning the field into a walk in the park for the much needed points.
It was much relief when the goals finally came to send the welcoming supporters into raptures of excitement. First the cracker from Lucky Baloyi and the simple tap in from Lehloonolo Majoro after good work from our attacking force set us up for a rewarding midweek account.
With this win, one would have thought that we continued the thrill against Golden Arrows that were obviously bent on derailing our winning streak. The first fifteen minutes of the game gave us a glimpse of excitement by suggesting that either team would crack the net but all was lost when the match surprisingly ended goalless. At some point the match displayed flashes of brilliance with both teams raiding each others’ goal territory at lightening speeds that followed one defensive move after the other.
Credit must be heaped on the two goalkeepers that stood between defeat and victory after thwarting goal-bound attempts from strikers that clearly were having a field evening. As to how this encounter ended goalless, it will remain a much-talked about analysis of the proceedings.
The unfortunate injury to Itumeleng Khune clearly demonstrated the intensity of the battle and can only confirm that the season is far from over. I can confirm that winning the trophy is every team’s chance at this stage as no other team can comfortably declare itself as an outright leader. Like I stated before, the point’s margin is still narrow for any team to rest comfortable at this stage.
We return to Polokwane to face another epic challenge against Black Leopards that is obviously blazing the trail at this juncture. They have eazed out of the relegation zone via a moral-boosting away win against a Santos at the same time when Arrows denied us the comfort of a clear victory.
Apart from this, they served their visiting Saint Eloi Lupopo a four goal drubbing to boost their moral before our clash. These pointers and many others will certainly render our sojourn a tough outing in our quest to surge ahead in the challenge for the Nedbank Cup.
It holds no water the fact that we have yet to lift this trophy and neither their win nor our drawn midweek match. The fact is our lads know and understand the stakes and would therefore approach the match with a singleness of purpose to lift the trophy.
Kaizer Motaung (Mr.)