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The Ghost dare to dream again

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Neville's Eye

It was a bittersweet weekend for Orlando Pirates football club fans all round as they triumphed on the pitch and at the same time had to contend with the sad news of the passing of the wife of club chairman Irvin Khoza.

We here, likewise, dip our banners in honour of the matriarch of the Orlando Pirates FC family Mme Mantwa Khoza who passed away peacefully at her home in Soweto, Johannesburg on Friday.

On the pitch on Saturday, the players and technical staff of the Buccaneers gave nothing away in their play against the “Lions of the North”. They thoroughly thumped Highlands Park by 3 goals to 1.

This was indeed some achievement in many respects for the club and manager. First, it dispelled the idea that the players would be downcast and under a shadow of sorts following the tribulation in the camp. Secondly, it signalled in a big way that the new coach, who replaced caretaker manager Rhulani Mokwena, had turned the corner with the team.

This was an important step for coach Josef Zinnbauer in that he is a relatively unknown entity in this part of the world. In point of fact many pundits, especially among us in the media, questioned his appointment at one of southern Africa’s most illustrious teams ahead of more deserving local football mentors. 

That was either patriotism speaking or it was a case of sheer bias against a foreign coach.

The matter of the coach and the club now being in sync is important. Up to this past weekend, Orlando Pirates had hitherto been spoken of in terms of barely managing to survive inside the top eight circles of the Premier Soccer League.

The club’s chances of even being in the running for the league honours were either seen as distant to non-existent by many who care to follow issues concerning our national football.

With this latest showing against Highlands Park the club’s faithful now dare to dream of silverware again, even if it is by the slimmest of threads. OK, that last bit took some stretching of the imagination. You see league silverware is completely out of reach for the Soweto team.

This is simply based on the progress or lack thereof of two other Premier League clubs. These are respectively Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns. Every fan worth his or her salt counts these two clubs in that exact order for this season’s league silverware.

The evidence at present is that the Amakhosi are top of the pile. Sundowns, are a way down at second spot. Now if we assume that every team on the table holds its nerve for the next five games, meaning not one of them loses a game, then the picture will still be unchanged after those five matches.

But then again we must caution against too much optimism on the part of any club fan. That picture sketched out above is an extremely unlikely event.

Something dramatic is surely likely to happen to any of the top five teams in the league. Of them all, Kaizer Chiefs fans must pray the hardest that nothing untoward happens to them on their march to the title. Their immediate future is by no means assured.

You see all of the big three – Chiefs, Sundowns and Pirates – will apart from their respective Soweto and Tshwane derbies, face opponents who tend to come alive at the sight of these teams.

The result of their “resurrection’’ is that they often tend to upset a carefully laden apple cart.

As for me and you, it will make for rivetting sofa-side viewing. Salang.