Saturday marked the end of an era for Polokwane City in the Premier Division following their relegation to the GladAfrica Championship.
Their 3-1 defeat against Wits mean Rise and Shine finished bottom of the log with 25 points.
They won 7, drew 4 and lost 19 of their 30 matches.
After a historic season in 2018/19 in which they finished fifth, their highest since gaining promotion in 2013, a lot was expected from the Limpopo side.
And indeed the team from Zebediela, showed signs of the previous seasons’ form at the beginning of the season, as they were on top of the Absa Premiership log for a few days.
But the tables turned for the worse for the club. After collecting 13 points out of a possible 18 in their first 6 matches, City went on to collect just 12 points, out of a possible 72, in their last 24 matches.
They also managed a club record of 9 matches losing streak.
FARPost takes a look at some of the contributing factors that might have caused the downfall for Rise and Shine.
Chopping and changing of coaches
The arrival of Zlatko Krmpotic was the beginning of a downfall for City. Taking over from Jozef Vukusic who finished in the top 8, was always going to be a big task for the Serbian coach. This publication spoke to more than five players who expressed their dissatisfaction with Krmpotic’s training methods. The players always complained with the one hour training sessions as compared to the regular two hours they are used to. This was evident as the results started showing that Rise and Shine were indeed an unprepared team. By the time current coach Clinton Larsen arrived, it was already late for the club to revive their old from as he had to start everything from scratch.
Polokwane City suffered a lot of injuries at the same time, especially their defenders. At some point, Ayanda Nkili, Nicholas Motloung, Sibusiso Mbonani, Salulani Phiri, Mpho Mvelase, Walter Musona and Puleng Tlolane were all out due to serious injuries. The absence of Mbonani and Motloung was a huge one as the defensive pair were the pillar of the team the previous season and in the early stage of the season. The club brought in Thabiso Semenya, Denis Chembezi and Sicelokuhle Hlatshwayo to fill in the positions but it took time for the trio to settle as the club went on to concede 44 goals.
The Jabu Maluleke factor
There was too much reliance on captain Jabu Maluleke to make things happen for the club. No other player stood out and carried the team when they were needed the most expect for Zimbabwean striker Charlton Mashumba who showed some qualities in front of goals. Experienced players such as Edgar Manaka, Mohammed Anas, Bongile Booi and later Kabelo Mahlasela never rose to the occasion.
Maluleke, who was released in June, was by far the best player for Polokwane City this season. The emotional decision to release him because it has been reported that he signed for their neighbours Black Leopards was a huge mistake. The last six matches at the bio bubble were vital for the club and letting go of their key player, including Sibusiso Mbonani, was unwise.
Although this factor can never be proven from outside, people within the club have always complained about the interference by Chairman Johnny Mogaladi. Mogaladi allegedly instruct the technical team on who to pick for match day squad, even though he does not attend training sessions. This has proved with other clubs that it demoralises the spirit within the camp and brings negative results.
For Polokwane City to Rise again, they will need to put in a proper structure in the club. Find an experienced coach who will be in charge without any interference. The club needs to convince some of their experienced players to stay for at least one more season and try bounce back to the elite league. It is quite obvious that there would be a major clear out at the club, this includes coach Clinton Larsen and players such as George Chigova, Mohammed Anas, Edgar Manaka, Walter Musona, Cyril Chibwe and Salulani Phiri. Life in the GladAfrica Championship is tough, hence the likes of Free State Stars, Jomo Cosmos and Ajax Cape Town are finding it difficult to make a return to the Absa Premiership, and so it will need more than just good signings for them to bounce back.
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By Ofhani Munyai