An­other jam­packed foot­ball year awaits in SA

CityPress - - Sport - S’Busiso Mseleku sm­se­leku@city­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

There is so much to look for­ward to in the 2016 soc­cer cal­en­dar.

Be­sides the Absa Premier­ship, which re­sumes with a full fix­ture list this com­ing week­end – start­ing with Ajax Cape Town fac­ing Bloem­fontein Celtic – there is still the Ned­bank Cup to come.

Out­side th­ese bor­ders, all eyes will be on Fifa head­quar­ters in Zurich for the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on Fe­bru­ary 26.

Mzansi has a vested in­ter­est, as lo­cal businessman/politi­cian Tokyo Sexwale will be vy­ing to be­come the first African – and the sec­ond per­son from out­side Europe, af­ter Brazil­ian João Have­lange – to be elected Fifa pres­i­dent.

He will fight it out against Jor­dan’s Prince Ali Bin al-Hus­sein, French­man Jérôme Cham­pagne, Uefa gen­eral sec­re­tary Gianni In­fantino and Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ibrahim al-Khal­ifa of Bahrain.

Then, later this year – Novem­ber, to be pre­cise – the Na­tional Soc­cer League (NSL), which in­cor­po­rates the Premier Soc­cer League (PSL) and the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion, will hold its own elec­tive an­nual gen­eral meet­ing.

At present, 10 of the 16 PSL clubs have played 12 Absa Premier­ship matches thus far; oth­ers have had 10 or 11 out­ings.

Clubs there­fore still have 18 or more matches ahead of them to com­plete their al­lot­ment of 30 out­ings, so it is still a long way to go un­til the end of the soc­cer sea­son in May.

The first part of the sea­son, as we have come to ex­pect, saw a num­ber of coaches bit­ing the dust and a lot of mu­si­cal chairs go­ing on.

I can as­sure you that we are still go­ing to see a num­ber of men­tors part­ing ways with their re­spec­tive clubs.

As the do­mes­tic sched­ule re­sumes, the Sword of Damo­cles hangs above the coaches in charge of the two big­gest clubs in the coun­try, Steve Kom­phela of Kaizer Chiefs and Eric Tin­kler at Or­lando Pi­rates.

The pair’s pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion was nudged closer to the precipice by Pitso Mosi­mane, whose Mamelodi Sun­downs scored a 3-1 vic­tory over Amakhosi in the Telkom Knock­out Cup and over­came the Buc­ca­neers 2-0 in the league four days later.

Kom­phela has an early chance to re­deem him­self, as his charges face the same Brazil­ians at FNB Sta­dium on Satur­day.

The fi­nal fur­long will also pro­vide one of South Africa’s most dec­o­rated sons – Jomo Sono – with a chance to save his beloved Jomo Cos­mos from the dreaded chop.

Hav­ing seen his 600th match at the helm – when his side went down 1-0 to Free State Stars in the last game of 2015 – Sono is all too aware of the un­steady po­si­tion his squad find them­selves in, as they are placed 14th on the log, with a measly 10 points from 12 out­ings.

As the sea­son draws to an end, we will once more ex­pe­ri­ence the ex­cite­ment of the Ned­bank Cup, dubbed Ke Yona (The One), as the 16 clubs in the coun­try’s elite league join sides from the lower di­vi­sions in the last 32 of South Africa’s version of the FA Cup.

This com­pe­ti­tion may pro­vide a much-needed life­line for some PSL coaches, as it will be the last bit of sil­ver­ware avail­able to them should they no longer have a chance in the league.

From Au­gust 5 to 21, South Africa’s fo­cus will be on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where Banyana Banyana (the na­tional se­nior women’s soc­cer team) and the SA Un­der-23 side will be car­ry­ing the South African flag.

In Novem­ber, the PSL will elect a new ex­ec­u­tive. The jury is out on whether Irvin Khoza, AKA the Iron Duke, will re­tain his po­si­tion as chair­per­son. He has been at the helm since 2002, when he suc­ceeded lawyer Mandla Mchunu.

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