Editor's Blog 2.5.2017 10:43 am

The blood-letting begins in league

Dan Malesela, coach of Chippa United (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

Dan Malesela, coach of Chippa United (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

It is a fickle world, this world of coaching. Only last season, Dan Malesela was the toast of Chippa United, his team’s attractive style of play blasting them into a top eight spot for the first time in the club’s history.

Last week, however, “Dance” was kicked out of Chippa Mpengesi’s disco, and placed on “special leave”, a kind of purgatorial nonsense that seems even more an act of cruelty than a simple sacking.

This weekend Gordon Igesund, the only man to have won four league titles with four different sides, was sacked by Highlands Park, having only taken over at the club in October.

The reason for these decisions are simple – these are two clubs battling relegation, with Highlands Park rock-bottom of the Absa Premiership, and Chippa United in 13th, but just two points above them. But the reality of whether simply bringing in a new coach will work is another matter entirely. One feels particularly sorry for Malesela, whose team continued to play their way this season, but this time the results simply would not come.

Pitso Mosimane praised Chippa to the heavens after his Sundowns side sneaked through a tough MTN8 semifinal at the start of the season. But the Chilli Boys have won just two league games since October, with a December victory over Kaizer Chiefs a rare highlight.

They have, however, also reached the Nedbank Cup semifinals and one would have thought Mpengesi might show a little more faith in a man who has served them so well and handled himself impeccably on the touchline.

A chairman seen as trigger-happy was also starting to throw off that reputation, only to have revived it in an instant.

Igesund, meanwhile arrived at a club already deep in the mire following promotion this season to the Premiership. The Lions of the North were more like kittens as they failed to build on an opening-day win against Baroka, with coach Allan Freese redeployed after a 4-1 hammering by SuperSport United.

Igesund has a superb record in South African football, including miraculously saving Moroka Swallows from relegation in 2011. His career had taken a bit of a downturn, however, after inconsistent spells as Bafana Bafana head coach and at the helm of SuperSport United.

As is stands, no one will ever know whether Malesela or Igesund would have saved their respective clubs from relegation. And this can now go one of two ways for Chippa and Highlands Park – a new man comes in and saves them and is hailed as a hero, or they get relegated anyway and the club look a little daft for a decision taken just a few games before the end of the campaign.

I would be tempted to use the word “daft” whatever happens to the two clubs. This certainly points at imprecise planning.

Orlando Pirates are another side for whom the plans have gone out the window this season, but they do have a chance to revive themselves with the Nedbank Cup, and Kjell Jonevret’s team even managed to sneak into the top eight this weekend. The Buccaneers are also set to have a big say at the top end of the table this week, as they take on Wits and Sundowns, who must both beware this sleeping giant.

My personal favourites to take the title are still Sundowns, and I say this, perhaps foolishly at the time of writing without knowing the result of the game against Wits yesterday.

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fixtures

FS Stars vs SuperSport
Sundowns vs Maritzburg Utd
CT City vs AmaZulu
Sundowns vs Celtic

results

Arrows 0-1 Sundowns
Celtic 3-0 FS Stars
Ajax CT 1-0 Chippa Utd
Pirates 1-1 AmaZulu

psl log

# Team GP Pts
1 Mamelodi Sundowns 11 22
2 Orlando Pirates 14 20
3 Kaizer Chiefs 14 19
4 Bloem Celtic 12 19
5 Chippa United 14 19
6 Baroka FC 14 19
7 Cape Town City 13 18
8 Maritzburg United 12 17
9 Golden Arrows 14 17
10 Free State Stars 13 16
11 SuperSport United 8 15
12 AmaZulu 12 15
13 Ajax Cape Town 13 13
14 Polokwane City 13 12
15 Platinum Stars 14 12
16 Bidvest Wits 13 11

poll