What the first 10 games taught us

Poor of­fi­ci­at­ing and lack of goals sum up the open­ing third of the Pre­mier Soc­cer League, writes Ti­mothy Molobi

CityPress - - Sport -

Although only 10 games have been played so far, the fact that Baroka FC and Bloem­fontein Celtic are in the top four is a big achieve­ment con­sid­er­ing their per­for­mance last sea­son.

Both sides strug­gled to get go­ing last sea­son and al­most got relegated. They seem to have learnt from that near­rel­e­ga­tion ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause they look to­tally dif­fer­ent – so far. Baroka may have failed to win their past three league games, but it is im­pos­si­ble to deny that they have been the bet­ter side of the first third.

It is still early days, but their good start to the sea­son sug­gests they may be about to mount the first se­ri­ous chal­lenge for the ti­tle. They are de­servedly basking in the glory of top­ping the stand­ings.

Cape Town City, de­spite look­ing like a team in cri­sis fol­low­ing their mini slump, are still up there with the best. In fact, Benni McCarthy’s side has won more games (five) than any of the other teams that have played 10 matches.

Af­ter los­ing four suc­ces­sive matches, City bounced back with a slen­der 1-0 vic­tory over Free State Stars on Wed­nes­day to move to the third spot on the ta­ble.

Bid­vest Wits’ hang­over is the long­est and the sooner they re­cover from this, the bet­ter.

This was not how their ti­tle de­fence was meant to start, but, at this rate, de­fend­ing it suc­cess­fully will be the tough­est chal­lenge. They look like a side that has al­ready sur­ren­dered. In­stead of fight­ing to re­gain their ti­tle, the cham­pi­ons are in a bat­tle to main­tain their top-flight sta­tus.

If there’s one thing that the open­ing games have shown, it is that there are no guar­an­tees in foot­ball. All the pre­sea­son favourites have strug­gled to live up to their billing, and an up­set might be on the cards for the cham­pi­onship.

Added to this, many games were char­ac­terised by be­low-par of­fi­ci­at­ing, which has left coaches seething.

Pitso Mosi­mane has made his feel­ings to­wards match of­fi­cials known – and right­fully so. Mamelodi Sun­downs, the only side still to draw a game, could have done bet­ter than their eighth po­si­tion and Mosi­mane points to con­tro­ver­sial of­fi­ci­at­ing as the rea­son for that.

Luc Ey­mael and McCarthy, among other coaches, have also been at the re­ceiv­ing end of some bizarre de­ci­sions.

While it took Plat­inum Stars 10 games to regis­ter their first vic­tory, it also took as many games for Golden Ar­rows to suf­fer their first loss.

Stars, in par­tic­u­lar, have strug­gled to get out of first gear and have al­ready changed coaches, with Roger De Sá re­plac­ing English­man Peter But­ler. Ey­mael has also sta­bilised Free State Stars af­ter re­plac­ing Sammy Troughton.

Te­boho Moloi is get­ting his foot­ing af­ter reg­is­ter­ing two back-to-back vic­to­ries fol­low­ing five draws he en­coun­tered af­ter re­plac­ing Dan Male­sela.

Kaizer Chiefs and Or­lando Pi­rates are still up there with the rest, but Steve Komphela and Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vić will have to work on the teams’ fin­ish­ing if they are to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge.

With three vic­to­ries, three draws and three losses, AmaZulu have been blow­ing hot and cold and need to be con­sis­tent if they want to avoid go­ing back to the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion.

Su­perS­port United might be on the wrong side of the ta­ble, but have ac­tu­ally done well con­sid­er­ing their involvement in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup. If they win their games, they can top the ta­ble.

Fol­low­ing a good start, the wheels seem to have come off Mar­itzburg United af­ter go­ing six games with­out a win.

Ajax Cape Town have also dropped to the rel­e­ga­tion zone af­ter just two wins in nine out­ings.

But, un­doubt­edly, the open­ing games be­longed to Kgoloko Thobe­jane and his Baroka troops, who have de­fied the odds.

To date, no player has scored a hat-trick and it should worry the league that, de­spite the many chances cre­ated, play­ers are still fir­ing blanks at the goal­posts.

PHOTO: SA­MUEL SHIVAMBU / BACK­PAGEPIX

ON TOP Rod­ney Ra­m­a­galela leads the scor­ing charts with six goals

PHOTO: FRIKKIE KAPP / GALLO IM­AGES

GOOD RE­PORT Ve­selin Jelušić has so far done well at Bloem­fontein Celtic

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