It would be a sad day for this football crazy province of Limpopo if any of the teams succumb to relegation at the end of the season.
In reality it really looks like the province may have a team or even 2 relegated to the lower division if the current log standings are anything to go by.
All the 3 teams, Baroka, Black Leopards and Polokwane City are tied at the bottom four on 17 points (alongside AmaZulu) but separated by goal difference with 11 fixtures remaining.
What went wrong with Baroka – a team that won a domestic cup final last season, a team that finished 5th (Polokwane City) and a team that produced a League top goal scorer (Black Leopards, in Mwape Musonda last season)?
Here are some of the reasons why the 3 teams have struggled this season…
Bakgaga’s biggest down fall this season was to let go of the experienced players and relying more on young players without Absa Premiership experienced. Letting go of players such as Thabiso Semenya, Letladi Madubanya, Abdi Banda and later on Mduduzi Mdantsane brought unbalance to the Ga-Mphahlele side.
Of the current squad Khulekani Madondo, Matome Kgoetyane and Prince Nxumalo are the only players who have played more than 50 matches in the Absa premiership which has been evident during the poor run this season.
The alleged interference by chairman Khurishi Mphahlele which also led to coach Wedson Nyirenda resigning has also contributed massively to destabilising the team. It is only fair that as a club chairman you pay close attention to the happenings at the club but it sounds unprofessional when you dictate who should start and come off the bench week in and week out.
Leopards’s poor results this season would be due to their failure to recruit the right coaches and not convincing former coach Dylan Kerr to stay at the end of last season after he helped the side to survive relegation. Coach Lionel Soccoia could barely understand nor speak English which made it difficult for players to get any instruction he intended to communicate.
Luc Eymael’s character was questionable prior to his return to South Africa to take over at Lidoda Duvha. His public spats with players divided the club and he was accused of having favourites in the team, more specifically new players than the players who have been in the team for a long time. Unlike previous seasons where interference was rife in the team, Leopards have surprisingly changed on how they manage the team but results continue to elude them.
The lack of form by last season top goal scorer Mwape Musonda has also contributed to the poor results. Musonda scored half of the 30 goals by Leopards last season but has struggled to find the back of the net.
Out of the 3 Limpopo teams, Polokwane City are by far the most experienced and should be fighting for a place in the top 8 at least. The injuries to experienced and regular cornerbacks Sibusiso Mbonani, Nicolas Motloung and Ayanda Nkili was a major factor for Rise and Shine to be languishing at the bottom of the log.
Their failure to iron out their difference with Coach Jozef Vukusic before he left was a big error as the players enjoyed playing for him and he was delivering. City also rushed with the appointment of Zaltko Krmpotic who proved to be a failure.
Perhaps the 5th finish of last season might have also got into the players heads and they thought it would be easy as they have not shown the same energy and effort as last season except in their first 8 games of the season.
But with the experience they have, City are the favourites of the 3 teams to survive the current situation.
By Ofhani Munyai