They were promoted to the PSL in 2000, one of their former players is plying his trade in the English Premiership, they are known for playing a style of football that brings smiles to the faces of their supporters... and now they are languishing at the bottom of the league table. Guess who I’m talking about?
Of course, Golden Arrows!
What has gone wrong for a team that promised so much a couple of years ago yet has failed to reach most people’s expectations? Is it time to press the dreaded panic button? Are they headed the way of other clubs who always maintain, ‘It’s still early days’ while walking the road to relegation? The reason I’m asking these questions is because the Arrows we see in action today is different from the one that used to thrill us with their enterprising play while bringing results. Something seems to be missing for sure. But their slump in form over the years could be attributed to a lot of factors.
Firstly, let’s look at the coaching and management side of things. When Manqoba Mngqithi left the club to join AmaZulu back in 2010, the club started going on a downward spiral. Even Babsy Mlangeni will tell you that. Was that by any co-incidence? You tell me. The players were used to a certain style of play under Mngqithi, who allowed them a bit more freedom than the coaches who came after him did. Zoran Filipovic was, in my humble opinion, a disaster. Players were scared to make mistakes under the Yugoslavian and would often be on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing for the slightest of mistakes. Under Ernst Middendorp, they employed a more cautious approach, in most instances playing not to lose rather than to collect maximum points, and the players never really got to realise their potential. Muhsin Ertugral also failed to achieve success despite his pedigree in local football.
The team flirted with relegation, prompting Mato Madlala to bring back Mngqithi, who is now in search for glory at the club. But Arrows have had a poor start to the season, losing three games, wining one and drawing the other in the league so far. Now my question is, what happened to the Arrows of old whose style of play brought joy to the faces of those who happened to be watching? What happened to the Arrows that embarrassed Ajax Cape Town in the 2009 MTN8 final with six unanswered goals? What happened to the Abafana Bes’thende that turned on the magic in a game against Mamelodi Sundowns and the Downs coach, Oscar Fullone, threw a water bottle at Thokozani Mshengu on the touchline - clearly incensed by the showboating? I’m talking about the Arrows that used to make visiting King Zwelithini Stadium a nightmarish experience for opposition teams.
Perhaps I’m just living in the past and refuse to realise that times have changed. Maybe it has not dawned on me that all teams go through a stage where they are on a consistent high and they cruelly come crashing down, before picking themselves up again. I sure hope so!
Catch y’all on the rebound!
By Lunga Adam
Follow Lunga on Twitter: @Lunga110