Goal takes a look at what went wrong with Dikwena in the 2017/18 Premier Soccer League season as they find themselves heading back to the lower division.
It has been a tough walk for the Phokeng-based side who will now end their 15-year stay in the top flight, and from the beginning of the campaign, Stars did not look like they had planned well for the season after fighting hard to reach the Caf Confederation Cup group stages.
The club failed to collect maximum points in the opening stages of the league as they registered seven losses in the league, bagged four draws as well as securing three wins in the first round.
A look at their second round, they still could not turn the corner quick enough because they have nine losses so far, one win and three draws – the record says it all for a team once called giant killers.
Just after wrapping up their continental journey, Dikwena announced coach Cavin Johnson and assistant coach Willem Jackson’s departures; the move by the management sent shocked everyone who's been following their game.
Johnson is someone who is underrated, but he has served the club with distinction. He is remembered for leading the club to their best ever finish in the league when the ended as runners-up to leaders, Kaizer Chiefs during the 2012/13 PSL season.
Perhaps it will be remembered that the former Transnet School of Excellence boss was the man who rescued the club when Allan Freese struggled to move away from the bottom of the log table a few seasons ago.
The club’s bosses called on the Westbury-born manager to come back after leaving SuperSport United in 2015 and managed to successfully save the club from relegation.
However, under the chairmanship of Cliff Ramoroa, the former MTN8 Cup and Telkom Knockout champions decided to release the duo and replaced them with PSL tyro and former Botswana national team coach Peter Butler and he worked with Martin Dlamini who was axed at Baroka FC.
Although they fired the English coach in less than three matches in charge as he left in September, it was clear he was not going to help their cause because he started with a loss at home and was not abreast with SA football.
Stars’ failure to hold on or renew Johnson’s contract turned out to be a costly mistake on their part as they now see his club, AmaZulu are on the verge of a top eight finish, fresh from the NFD.
LACK OF PREPARATION
The changes in the technical team were sudden in such a way that it hurt their preparations for the new season because they were busy with Caf commitments which took their off-season time to refresh, that was another failure on the management’s part.
Butler came in with a massive reputation as well as a bad one because he was seen as someone who ruled with iron fist during his days with the Zebras just across the borders.
The tactician is modern because he spent time on his social media accounts lambasting the Botswana Football Association and the players in Botswana, thus wasting his time to acclimatise in the PSL.
His departure did not come as a shock because he did not know South African players, the league and when the games came thick and fast, he parted ways because he had failed to focus on the Dikwena project.
Following the departure of the two technical team members in Johnson and Jackson, the likes of Ndumiso Mabena, Tintswalo Tshabalala and Solomon Mathe were released as well as the experienced Henrico Botes - they jumped the ship.
Mabena was their key player since his arrival from Orlando Pirates a few seasons ago and made the team tick when it mattered the most. His combination with the likes of Robert Ng’ambi was there for all to see as they were a tough nut to crack for any opponent visiting Rustenburg.
Coming to the veterans, Mathe and Tshabalala, these two experienced campaigners also expressed shock and sadness when they were told they were no longer needed.
It was not a bad idea to recruit players from their youth academy such as Siphiwe Mnguni and Siphamandla Mllio to mention but a few, but they need experienced players such as Mathe and Tshabalala, including their former youth coach in Allan Clark and Johnson to guide them into the first team.
Apart from the departure of the four players, they signed Zambian international player Brian Mwila whose contribution was not seen by many.
In the first place, they signed an injured player who spent the beginning of the campaign on the sidelines, but when he started to recover, reports emanated that he went AWOL since the Christmas break.
He has since returned to his home country and left the club with wasteful expenditure as the season progressed.
THE ARRIVAL OF ROGER DE SA
Roger is not a bad coach at because he has served the South African football with respect and integrity, but he also came a bit late because the pressure was already mounting for them to collect points.
He made changes, set up targets which would have been enough for them to escape relegation had they achieved them, but it was too little too late.
He was announced as part of a consortium that purchased the club and that could have brought some relief in the players in terms of stability and so on.
However, their move to announce bonuses for the players that if they win or draw, should’ve been introduced as early as the second round rather than wait until they are left with a few matches.
On the other hand, the new players who came though were quality players such as Ayanda Gcaba, Riyaad Norodien, Letsie Koapeng and others, but they took time to settle down and help the club.
With one match remaining for them to wrap up their campaign and prepare for life in the NFD, Stars will hope to see the 15th placed Ajax Cape Town docked points for them to move up from the bottom of the standings.
The PSL, Fifa and Safa are yet to decide on the Tendai Ndoro’s eligibility after playing for three clubs in one season – a decision Dikwena will hope to see go their way as it is now the only therapy for their relegation quamgmire.
THE SALE OF THE CLUB
When the reports first surfaced before the start of the season, the chairman (Ramoroa) and former manager Mazingiza, were asked if the club was up for sale, but they both assured their fans, the players and the media that this was not the case.
As the season reached the first quarter, reports resurfaced again and were later confirmed that the club was indeed going to be sold, but the owners wanted it to remain in the North West/Rustenburg area.
Nevertheless, the decision to sell the club had a negative impact on the players’ psyche as they could not be able to focus on the job at hand, but to think of their futures should the rumours be confirmed by the club’s hierarchy.
It is a known fact that the club was surviving on less corporate sponsorship, but on the platinum which is a commodity found in the province or in the Bokone Bophirima area.
However, it was not a wise decision to sell in the middle of the season because a lot is involved when such a decision is made, especially in the players' minds, because without them, there's no club.