SportPesa ambassador Doctor Khumalo touched on the exciting title race that has had the supporters on the edge of their seats this season. Khumalo also pointed out various scenarios with which clubs could walk away with the coveted league, however on the other half of the log standings, some teams are fighting to remain in the top flight.
“At this stage, it is no longer only in the hands of the coach and the technical team or players – you need all hands on deck and pulling in the same direction. Everyone, including the supporters, has an important role to play now.
“Let me take you back to Sundowns’ last two championship titles. They allowed their supporters to come into the stadium for free in their last few games. That, on its own, shows that they were rallying their 12th player behind them and ensuring that the visiting team feels like they are really playing away from home. At face value, this might not look important but, believe you me, it plays a huge role in the morale of the team to have their supporters filling up the stadium and outnumbering the visiting team. That’s the kind of support teams need, especially those in the bottom half. The question is, could the bottom half teams afford to let their supporters in for free? Much as they need the support, they also need the gate takings otherwise allowing people in for free would hit them hard in the pockets. So there’s no capacity and when I raised these things at the beginning of the season, it may have seemed like just another column, but I warned about the importance of preparing for any eventuality. This is the situation a lot of teams would have done a great deal of favour for themselves by avoiding. You don’t want to find yourself pressing the panic button and depending on other teams’ results, with your fate pretty much decided by other teams.
“It must be the worst situation to find yourself in, but proper planning and preparation is key to avoid this kind of a situation. Teams have sleepless nights now because relegation is starring them in the face, with the number of games getting smaller and smaller by the day. There’s so much pressure now with others fearing relegation, not making the Top Eight or possibly failing to win the league. It takes a lot of planning to avoid this and you can see from the beginning of the season which teams have a proper structure and planning. Losing players without adequate replacements isn’t proper planning. Acquiring talent that isn’t adequate to the demands of the Absa Premiership because you don’t want to pay decent salaries isn’t proper planning. If you don’t take care of the off-the-field stuff you will pay, and we have to be realistic and honest about these things.
“You want to compete with the best, you’ve got to be at your best. The so-called small teams get the best players because they want to compete. That means you can’t take short-cuts in this game otherwise you will be fighting relegation every season and that proves you’re just adding numbers in the league. You can’t cheat this game, you simply can’t.”
“16v” went on to talk about his own academy that he is looking to launch soon. To read more on this and more, check out this week’s SportPesa Clubhouse column in Soccer Laduma issue 1112.