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Polokwane City: The unsung heroes of the 2018/19 PSL campaign

11:15 SAST 2019/04/09
Jozef Vukusic, Polokwane City
Rise and Shine have gone about their business quietly but effectively, and Goal pays tribute to their successful campaign

Twenty-five games played and four points adrift of log leaders Orlando Pirates, one can be forgiven for thinking that this is one of the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) usual title contenders.

However, you will be mistaken as this is the ongoing campaign of one of the league's more unfancied teams in Polokwane City

There has been little to no hype surrounding Rise and Shine’s success this season as they have quietly gone about their business, and with just a handful of games remaining, the sky is the limit for Polokwane.

Under the astute mentorship of coach Jozef Vukusic, Polokwane City have played an organised brand of football that sees them possess the joint-third best attack in the league with 34 goals, the same amount scored as log leaders Pirates and four more goals than Mamelodi Sundowns.

This is impressive considering that Polokwane City are hardly ever seen as favourites heading into games. But Vukusic has brought out the best in his players, and what is even more notable is the fact that this is done without the services of talisman Rodney Ramagalela, who has been frozen out by the club.

Nonetheless, Mohammed Anas has taken over the talismanic mantle in terms of goals, netting seven times in the league. But the plaudits undoubtedly go down to the playmaking ability of Jabulani Maluleke. 

The veteran is maturing like a fine wine and is perhaps the South African equivalent of Italian legend Andrea Pirlo who produced moments of class even towards the end of his career.

Maluleke has produced eight assists with only Bidvest Wits' Deon Hotto having contributed more.

 Aside from the Polokwane outfit’s goalscoring prowess, their defensive solidity has also been responsible for their current league placing.

They have conceded 27 goals this season, and while it hasn’t been the sturdiest of defences, it has been enough to see them get by this season as it has allowed them to pick up points as they have drawn 10 games this season.

Vukusic has made his troops extremely difficult to beat, losing just five times this season to the likes of Pirates and Cape Town City among other which there is certainly no shame in that.

In addition, they have won 10 games, the sixth most out of all 16 competing PSL teams.

These statistics deserve to be applauded as there are very few teams who can boast such a record never mind a team with less resources than some of their counterparts.

Nevertheless, while Vukusic came to South Africa as a complete unknown to South African audiences, his success has undoubtedly seen his value rise.

No matter what happens in Polokwane City’s remaining five games, this season should be regarded as a huge success and a major step in the right direction, but considering that they are on a seven-match unbeaten run, it doesn’t look like their progress will be halted anytime soon.

Rather, they have an opportunity to really assert themselves on the South African football scene and while winning the league does seem one bridge too far, qualifying for Africa could be an objective to look forward to for Polokwane City.