24 September 2016
Tembisa, South Africa
Welcome back. The new season is underway, filled with hope and promise! Of course this veneer optimism soon fades as the harsh reality of life in the premier league unfolds.
Opening Moves and Injuries
Firstly we had the misfortune of losing five players to the South African team at the Olympics. This left a number of holes in our squad and we limped to a poor 1-1 draw against Chippa United.
This was immediately followed by a poor 0-2 showing against SuperSport United which left us with a lone point form our first two matches.
Adding injury to insult we had the misfortune of losing three key players to long term injuries in our first two matches. This included new the key signings Eugene Ngcobo and Joseph Ralebakena along with Abram Ngcobo.
The Ralebakena injury is particularily bad with him being effectively out until Christmas.
- Eugene Ngcobo – Sprained Ankle 7-8 Weeks
- Joseph Ralebakena – Torn Calf Muscle 5 Months
- Abram Ngcobo – Broken Arm – 7-9 Weeks
In spite of the sloppy start we pulled out a series of fantastic results as first the FS Stars and then the Tuks were disposed of with surprising ease. In both games we went two goals up, before they came back at us, and then we scored a late third goal to put the result to bed.
The next game, a visit to Maritzburg, produced a hard fought victory. We scored in the first five minutes, and looked the strongest for the first quarter. This myth was tested either side of halftime, and by the end I could truthfully say we were the second best team in every facet bar the one that mattered most.
Against the Black Aces the side showed resilience following a 15th minute red card to Dumisani Masilela for what is without a doubt the worst foul I have ever seen! Just watch the video and be the judge!
Adding Injury to insult, we lost another key player Regista Moepa Rikhotso just before the half hour mark. We managed to score either side of half time and hold on for an improbable victory!
As we are going to press, the two Ngcobo’s are almost ready to start playing again. However true to form Moepa Rikhotso has been sidelined with a sprained ankle for 6 weeks.
- Moepa Rikhotso – Sprained Ankle 6 weeks.
The four wins on the bounce have seen us unexpectedly atop the pile. I am not confident that we can hold this position as we have not played many of the top teams yet.
Still it is better to on top looking down than at the bottom looking up as the hard games come.
The next series of fixtures see us up against a series of teams that were mid table last season and who are all competing directly with us for the upper mid-table positions. Ideally we need to between 10 and 12 points from these matches to remain on pace for where I want us to finish.
The transfer window slammed shut with a big move on my part. There was significant interest from a number of overseas clubs for our talented youngster Mandla Dlamini. After a serious bidding war, we accepted a bid of 425K from Italian club Sassuolo for him.
Young Dlamini is going to be a big thing and at 18 was our top center back. Clearly we were never going to be able to keep him, and thus the decision to sell him while the money was on offer was an easy one.
We retained 40% of this money in our transfer coffers and immediately went into the market to secure the services of two replacements. While neither were of stellar capability, they did increase the relative strength of the teams defensive capabilities.
Center-back Philani Motaung is solid if unspectacular and will provide leadership and experience to the back line.
Mathew Paulse is a utility back, being able to cover all three positions in the back line which is a key factor when you have limited resources.
Telkom Knockout Draw
The draw in the cup has been kind as we have only just beaten Tuks comfortably. I won’t be taking this match lightly however, as I want to make a deep cup run this season.
After a tense meeting where I had to campaign heavily, the board have agreed to improve the youth and training facilities. I felt is twas a good idea to sink some money into the club, and reluctantly they agreed. All part of the master plan for world domination.
So there you have it. A good start and we are making a case for a top half plus season, and the valuable prize money that comes with it