Another jampacked football year awaits in SA
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.