Just eight points separate Kaizer Chiefs from Orlando Pirates. If Pirates win their two ‘make-up’ games to bring them level on games played with the rest of the league, they will be just two points off log leaders Kaizer Chiefs and the race for the title will be well and truly on.
Despite the narrowest of gaps at the top of the table, Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter has just been crowned ‘Coach of Q3’, is being hailed as the coach that will return the glory to Kaizer Chiefs and is showered with praise wherever he goes.
Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa, on the other hand, a coach who has just got Orlando Pirates through to the next round of the African Champions League and who is still very much in the league race, was not even an afterthought in the recent voting for ‘Coach of Q3’. De Sa is being seen as the coach who will give the title away and is being showered with vuvuzelas at stadiums around the country.
Now, forgive me for asking what many might consider a silly question, but is Roger de Sa the reason Orlando Pirates are not at the top of the league table this season, or is he the reason Orlando Pirates are still in with a chance, and have managed to stay in touching distance of a magnificent Kaizer Chiefs team this season? Is the glass half-full or half-empty? That’s what I’m saying.
I guess an argument can be made both ways if one looks at it closely. For example, who is actually leading the Orlando Pirates front line this season? Who is the source of goals?
For Kaizer Chiefs, almost all the strikers used in almost any number of combinations are doing the business. At Pirates there are a lot of blanks being fired upfront, which always makes things that much more difficult. At Pirates, who are the established players, the seniors, who are holding this team together when it counts? At Chiefs there is Shabba, Yeye is doing his bit and even Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune is coming to the party as they march towards the league title. In the Pirates camp, Lucky Lekgwathi seems to be doing his best to rally the troops, but with Benni, last season’s talisman seemingly out of sorts, and with Moeneeb Josephs clearly discontented about something, how the Pirates ship is even still in the race is nothing short of a miracle.
However, the overwhelming feeling remains that, come the end of the season, in fact possibly even before then, if a bad result comes Bucs’ way, Roger could be heading out.
Now I understand that when it comes to football, when the ship isn’t sailing up to speed, it is the captain of that ship who is made to walk the plank first. And looking at Orlando Pirates, the pattern is no different. The Buccaneers have made countless coaches walk the plank over the years. It’s always easier to get rid of one coach than it is to get rid of 30 players, and a lot less expensive as well. We see it all over the world, in the biggest leagues, with the biggest names. The fans feel like the club has taken action. The source of the rot is seemingly removed and a new captain steps in and sets a new course, one that hopefully delivers for the club.
In most cases, I agree. If a coach at a big club doesn’t deliver, he must go. But, in this instance, I do not agree that Roger de Sa has been given a fair shake and must walk the plank. In fact, I do not entirely agree that the ship is even under his full control and so can he really be the one to blame when things go wrong?
I guess time will tell, but my thinking is let Roger stay on board for a little while longer, and this league title may well still remain in the Buccaneers trophy cabinet. And who knows, maybe even a second star on that famous Bucs jersey may follow.