The highs and lows of South African football in 2018

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Goal takes a look at the highs and lows of South African football in general in no particular order

2018 has come and gone, and like in the previous years, there is just so much to take into the new year. 

Goal takes a look at the highs and lows of South African football in general in no particular order. 

THE HIGHLIGHTS


 SUNDOWNS WIN PSL TITLE


Sundowns celebrate Tshwane Derby win over SuperSport United, December 2, 2018

Mamelodi Sundowns had a slow start to the 2017/18 season following their participation in the Caf Champions League, but they bounced back stronger to overtake the likes of Orlando Pirates, who at one stage appeared to be running away with the crown. 

This was Sundowns' third PSL title in five years under Pitso Mosimane, who continues to prove that he's one of the best coaches in Africa by delivering trophies 

While their dominance might have been inevitable given the quality of players in their squad, it also highlighted that they are still stronger than both Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, who finished second and third respectively. 

Sundowns are yet to lose a league match in 2018 - something which their rivals will dream of achieving in 2019. 


 TAU & SHABBA MOVE ABROAD


Percy Tau and Ognjen Vranjes fight for the ball during the Croky Cup match between Rsc Anderlecht and Union Saint-Gilloise at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium on September 27, 2018

After a saga which nearly brought the name of Mamelodi Sundowns into disrepute, the club finally let go of star player Percy Tau.

It took an intervention from the media for Patrice Motsepe to order the Sundowns management to make Tau's move to Brighton & Hove Albion happen.

Sundowns were reluctant to release Tau, who had to boycott the team's pre-season training in the North West in an attempt to twist the arm of the club's management.

Tau also became the latest South African player to be signed by a Premier League club directly from the PSL although he was later loaned out to Belgian Second Division side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on a season-long loan deal. 

Moreover, Siphiwe Tshabalala also made a shock move to Turkey to sign for BB Erzurumspor, ending an 11-year relationship with Kaizer Chiefs. 

At 33, Shabba's dream of playing abroad looked non-existent, but Erzurumspor presented him with an opportunity of a lifetime, and the player never thought twice about it as he moved to the Super Lig. 


 BANYANA QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP


Banyana Banyana, November 2018

Desiree Ellis enjoyed a fairly successful year on all fronts as head coach of Banyana Banyana. 

While she didn't win the Awcon tournament which was recently hosted by Ghana, Ellis conquered the Southern African region by winning the Cosafa Cup for a second successive year.

As if that was not enough, Banyana upset the odds to qualify for their first ever Fifa Women's World Cup finals; the tournament which will be held in France in 2019.

They achieved this feat despite losing to Nigeria in the Awcon final.    


 BAROKA STUN PIRATES IN TKO


Davies Nkausu, Baroka FC, December 2018

Baroka gained promotion to the PSL four years ago under the guidance of Kgoloko Thobejane.

They were at one stage close to returning to the National First Division and didn't look strong enough to win any trophy in the PSL until Wedson Nyirenda joined them.

Baroka stunned the entire nation, at least those who expected to lose the final, beating Orlando Pirates to the Telkom Knockout Cup trophy. 

This was their first major piece of silverware and a legacy which will forever live on in the hearts of the players who fought hard to ensure Baroka became the talk of the town for their historic win. 

THE LOWLIGHTS 


 MOSES MABHIDA INCIDENT


Kaizer Chiefs players run for cover at Moses Mabhida Stadium

Football is a family sport! Fan-violence on and off the field should be condemned in the strongest terms.

What happened on April 21, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium when Kaizer Chiefs lost to Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals doesn't have a place in the beautiful game. 

A section of angry Chiefs fans invaded the pitch and caused harm to innocent security guards who were trying to bring the situation under control after the final whistle.

Lives could have been lost as a result of this unruly behaviour, and while questions continue to be asked as to why our people stay away from football stadia, we should look into the issue of hooliganism which is slowly but surely becoming a threat that could cause further harm to our football. 


 AJAX'S RELEGATION TO NFD


Ajax Cape Town, Ari Efstathiou, July 2018

This was one of the saddest days in the history of the PSL, especially looking how Ajax Cape Town got relegated to the National First Division.

After a long saga which lasted for months between Ajax and PSL due to Tendai Ndoro's ineligibility, the Mother City-based side eventually surrendered and opted to start over in the NFD.

Ajax were adamant that they had a case until Advocate William Mokhari SC delivered a damning ruling for them to be docked points after being found guilty for fielding Ndoro, who had played for two clubs - Orlando Pirates and Al Faisaly - in a single season. 

So many talented players were left without jobs as Ajax had to cut salary bills and bring in more youngsters to rebuild the team.


 THE MERRY-GO-ROUND OF COACHES


Steve Komphela Kaizer Chiefs April 2018

There are two ways in coaching - entrance, and exit - but the way PSL teams chopped and changed their coaching departments in 2018 was just bizarre, especially towards the end of 2018. 

In the last four months, a whopping eight coaches have lost their jobs, including three at Chippa United. Steve Komphela is coaching his third PSL club this year after being forced to resign at both Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic

Luc Eymael had to leave Free State Stars just months after helping them win the Nedbank Cup, while Fadlu Davids and Giovanni Solinas were both shown the door by Maritzburg United and Chiefs respectively. 

At times, our administrators are just impatient with the coaches, and this makes a mockery of our league which is regarded as one of the best on the continent and across the globe.  


 USUTHU DOCKED POINTS


Cavin Johnson, AmaZulu

AmaZulu became PSL's second team to be docked points in 2018 after failing to comply with a Fifa ruling in relation to a disciplinary matter dating back to 2014. 

Usuthu were taken to court by the South African Football Players' Union after they unlawfully terminated the contract of Namibian player Phineas Nambandi.

Fifa ordered AmaZulu to pay the sums claimed by Nambandi, but the ruling fell on deaf ears and the club appeared to be content with losing points than paying the Namibian player. 

This is not good for South African football, and it doesn't reflect well on a team which claims to be professionally run. Teams should honour contracts the same way the players are expected to if our football is to move to greater heights.    


 DEATH STRIKES SA FOOTBALL


Luyanda Ntshangase of Maritzburg United

The year 2018 took with it two promising talents of SA football. Luyanda Ntshangase passed away in May whilst on the books of Maritzburg United.

Ntshangase was struck by lightning on the 1st of March 2018 and struggled to recover until his passing. 

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At 21, he was destined for greatness, especially because he had graduated from the club's MDC team just two years prior to his untimely death. 

As if that was not enough, PSL referee Eketsang Setloboko lost his life in a tragic car accident in mid-December. 

Setloboko was in charge of the first Soweto Derby of the season between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the FNB Stadium in October. May their souls rest in eternal peace. 

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