There are just 10 points separating Bidvest Wits, Ajax Cape Town and Platinum Stars in the bottom three from Baroka FC on top of the table.
Thrilling stuff, right? Wrong. This claustrophobic feeling is simply a sign of just how poor the 2017/18 Premiership is, a league where no team can find any consistency, and where one win sends a side catapulting a ridiculous distance up the table.
Take Orlando Pirates. They hadn’t won a league game since September when they beat Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday, the only win in seven matches of another tepid weekend. Yet suddenly the Buccaneers have jumped from eighth to second in the table, a point off the top.
In the previous set of fixtures there was also only one win in seven matches, Khama Billiat’s second-half double lighting up Mamelodi Sundowns’ 2-0 victory at Bidvest Wits. So that’s 14 games that threw up just two wins, and a mind-numbing six goalless draws. In 15 years or so of covering the PSL, I can tell you that at around 80% of matches I have found my head slowly drifting towards my laptop keyboard, unsure of whether to fall asleep or headbutt the space bar in frustration. A good game lights up the eyes with a wild delight, including a heavy dose of surprise, because a good game is so rare.
I guess I’m a bit of a masochist, or I would have quit this gig a while ago, but then there are so many characters in the game that bring it to life, and enough happening in other areas, from development to the women’s game to (often shambolic) administration to make it well worth writing about. In fact I’ve had so much fun that often the only problem has been the actual football. There are only so many words in a Thesaurus for boring.
On these Premiership fields surely lie the main reason why the South African national team cannot succeed. If players cannot produce consistently at club level, how on earth are they going to do so for Bafana Bafana?
Within this argument, one does need to address the recent success of Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, and even Orlando Pirates, who have all reached continental finals in the past four years, with Sundowns even winning the 2016 Caf Champions League. These are all admirable achievements, that on the surface go against my declaration of Premiership junk status.
That Masandawana side was certainly a fine outfit, an extremely talented side that deserved all the plaudits that came their way, and, it must be said, that dominate on the domestic front in a thrilling manner before tasting continental glory.
I would also argue, however, that club football across Africa is not of the highest level, and that more than ever, Africa’s best players now ply their trade in Europe. It is not really saying much if you are the least mediocre of a mediocre lot. Maybe eventually I’ll cheer up, but for now, I’ll say it again. The PSL is rubbish and until the organisers stop hiding behind the gloss of their fancy marketing, it is not going to get any better.
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