Let the fairy tale continue
From goalkeepers scoring goals to misfiring strikers, the first half of the season had all the ingredients of a great one, writes Timothy Molobi
The first half of what has been an unbelievable Absa Premiership season is done and dusted for some clubs while others are still to reach midway.
The only good thing about Baroka FC in their maiden season in the Premiership was their goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke making international headlines after his last-minute strike earned them a draw.
Highlands Park goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini also made headlines after registering his name on the score sheet as well but his side struggled to adjust to life in the top-flight league.
Overall, the two newcomers had an opening half to forget and need something extraordinary if they are not to go back to the National First Division next season.
But the story of the first half has to be that of Cape Town City, who have surprised everybody so far. Theirs has been a fairy tale of a story as, six months in the making, they already have a trophy in the bag and sit pretty on the log – only goal difference separating them from the top two.
With no clear favourite half way through the season, the first half of the season has dished out some entertaining brand of football and some not so enticing.
Orlando Pirates striker Tendai Ndoro took off like a bullet when he scored a hat-trick against Golden Arrows in the opening match of the season and he has not looked back since. He is leading the scoring charts on 11 goals.
But there is a long way to go and the second half promises to be even more entertaining, gruelling and challenging.
Despite the stop-go programme, the first half of the season has given us an idea of what to expect in the home stretch that is the second half – and a grandstand finish to the campaign is a possibility.
The first five months of the season have literally given everything a football fan could have expected, thus living up to its billing as the best league on the continent.
Eight coaches have already been shown the doors at seven clubs and it does not look like the end. Free State Stars are already on their third coach following the departure of Frenchman Denis Lavagne and Italian Giovanni Solinas. They have now decided local is lekker as they went for their former captain Serame Letsoaka.
There could be more coaching casualties before the end of the season if results are still not forthcoming for certain clubs. But as is always the case in South African football – some of the fired coaches have already been recycled with former Ajax Cape Town Roger De Sá joining Maritzburg United and Letsoaka making a short trip from Bloemfontein Celtic to Stars. So far nothing separates the top three teams – SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits and Cape Town City – and with defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns already lurking not far off with six games in hand. However, nothing is settled as yet as there is still a long way to go. The title race is wide open and the relegation battle has most teams in the bottom half keeping a look over their shoulders. It is not surprising that the two promoted sides – Baroka and Highlands Park – are occupying the last two spots after finding life too hard in the Premiership. Stars are on their third coach already while Baroka have just enlisted the services of new coach Jacob Sakala and technical director Mark Harrison. These are signs of desperation, but this is hardly surprising in the league as coaches do not normally last. The second half league marathon starts on Tuesday. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 SuperSport United Bidvest Wits Cape Town City Kaizer Chiefs Polokwane City Golden Arrows Mamelodi Sundowns Maritzburg United Ajax Cape Town Orlando Pirates Chippa United Bloemfontein Celtic Platinum Stars Free State Stars Highlands Park Baroka FC 14 13 15 15 15 15 9 15 15 13 14 14 14 15 15 15 6 7 7 6 5 5 6 4 5 4 4 3 3 3 2 2
GOAL POACHER Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke
INSTANT HIT Tendai Ndoro is leading the scoring charts with 11 goals