FAC­ING A BLEAK CHRIST­MAS

Some coaches will re­ceive presents, and oth­ers will pon­der if they will be present in the sec­ond round

CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI timothy@city­press.co.za

Seven days from to­day, the world will cel­e­brate Christ­mas, but for some, there will not be any­thing to be jolly about. It will be a quiet pe­riod for many foot­ball sup­port­ers. Al­though the first half of the sea­son is be­hind us, there is not much to write home about.

For Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pi­rates sup­port­ers, it will be a time to re­treat to their own lit­tle spa­ces.

Mamelodi Sun­downs sup­port­ers will also not be as vo­cal as they were be­fore their trip to Ja­pan fol­low­ing their club’s hu­mil­i­a­tion at the Fifa Club World Cup.

While some coaches will have a fes­tive time with their fam­i­lies, the Christ­mas break will come as a tem­po­rary re­lief to coaches such as Steve Kom­phela, Gor­don Ige­sund, Cavin John­son, Kgoloko Thobe­jane and Gio­vanni Soli­nas.

The five will have a lot go­ing on in their minds as they do not know what the new year will usher in, or whether they will still be em­ployed or not.

Clubs will use the break to search for new play­ers – and maybe coaches too – for the fi­nal stretch of the sea­son.

Af­ter go­ing nine games with­out a win in all com­pe­ti­tions, Kom­phela and his Chiefs sup­port­ers are go­ing through a lean spell and face a bleak Christ­mas.

Al­though they could still turn things around in the last two fix­tures of the year, they would want to see the back of this year.

Chiefs wel­come high-rid­ing Polok­wane City at FNB this af­ter­noon be­fore vis­it­ing Golden Ar­rows on Wed­nes­day in their last game of the year.

Amakhosi won just four of their last 13 league games, and un­less they can en­gi­neer a ma­jor fight­back in the sec­ond round of the cam­paign, they will en­dure a sec­ond sea­son with­out a tro­phy.

Al­though not too far off from the early pace-set­ters, Chiefs’ un­do­ing has been play­ing six draws, which means they dropped 12 points.

This has put Kom­phela un­der tremen­dous pres­sure and time is not on his side to start col­lect­ing points. But just one vic­tory could change things around and set him on the path to greater things again.

How­ever, fourth-placed City will be no pushovers. The Polok­wane side has now gone five matches with­out a loss.

Ige­sund, who re­placed Al­lan Freese at High­lands Park ear­lier in the sea­son, has strug­gled to turn the team’s for­tunes around. The for­mer Bafana Bafana coach was ex­pected to bring sta­bil­ity to the side but has so far failed to do so with just a sin­gle win un­der his belt in nine league matches.

Yes­ter­day’s 2-0 loss to Chippa United was Ige­sund’s third.

Thobe­jane also finds him­self in deep trou­ble as Baroka are lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the log.

Baroka have found that life in the Premier­ship is not as rosy as they thought. This has been an eye­opener for them as they have only won two out of 13 games.

Plat­inum Stars might not be known for fir­ing coaches, but John­son should be well aware that only pos­i­tive re­sults will ex­tend his stay.

Soli­nas might have come as a re­place­ment for De­nis Lav­agne at Free State Stars, but that does not guar­an­tee a stay of ex­e­cu­tion – only re­sults will. The Ital­ian needs to build on their 1-0 mid­week vic­tory over Baroka if he is to sur­vive the chop.

Pi­rates fol­low­ers are im­pa­tiently wait­ing to hear whether they will have a new coach in the new year to re­place care­taker coach Au­gusto Pala­cios. While they thought the de­par­ture of Muhsin Er­tuğral would bring joy, this has not been the case as they have won just two of their six league games since then.

Sun­downs will hope to bounce back when they visit out-of-sorts Baroka on Thurs­day.

The Brazil­ians have not rested this year, ow­ing to their in­volve­ment in the CAF Cham­pi­ons League and will only get a break af­ter Thurs­days’ game.

It has been a long and ex­tended sea­son for them, but well worth it as they al­ready have two tro­phies this year.

The play­ers will wel­come the break, but an­other de­mand­ing year awaits as they play catch-up games and also try to de­fend their CAF ti­tle.

If the first round of fix­tures is any­thing to go by, the sec­ond round should be even more en­ter­tain­ing.

PHOTO: AUBREY KGAKATSI / BACKPAGEPIX

ROUGH PATCH Kaizer Chiefs and their coach Steve Kom­phela have not had the best of times

PHOTO: THEMBA MAKOFANE

CRUNCH Gor­don Ige­sund has not made a good start at High­lands Park

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACKPAGEPIX

THIN ICE Cavin John­son is skat­ing on thin ice at Plat­inum Stars

PHOTO: THEMBA MAKOFANE

OUT OF TIME Gio­vanni Soli­nas is run­ning out of time to de­liver at Free State Stars

PHOTO: Sa­muel Shivambu / Backpagepix

ROCK BOT­TOM Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobe­jane has failed to in­spire his side so far

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