Matshelane Mamabolo.
Matshelane Mamabolo.
Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix
Embarrassing as it was, I got it wrong. And it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that now as a sports editor, I’m a bit far removed from the coalface of the action than I was as a reporter.

At the SuperSport Media Quiz, at the quaint Aquila Safari Lodge some 40km north-west of Worcester in the Western Cape, one of the questions asked was: Which team will finish with a negative goal difference for the first time in PSL history?”

The options given for the answer were Ajax Cape Town, Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic.

Sure, I knew that the Buccaneers are in danger of missing out on qualifying for the top eight. But I didn’t think it was as bad as it is.

Well, maybe not as bad as our showing at the quiz, where we finished stone last out of the six teams.

That I didn’t go for Pirates as the answer was purely instinctive really. You see, MaBhakaniya are such a big team, an institution of both the local and continental game, that you just don’t associate them with such poor records or stats from a trivia question.

Any mention of the name Orlando Pirates stirs up thoughts of success. As Pitso Mosimane said during the week, “wherever you go in Africa, when they find out you are from South Africa, they say ‘Orlando’ or ‘Mamelodi’.”

And no self-respecting football fan will ask why. The fact that the two teams are the only ones from South Africa to have attained the continent’s football Holy Grail – the Champions Cup/League – is common knowledge.

This season though, Ezimnyama and success have resembled nothing but the parallel lines of a railway line – seemingly destined never to meet.

Unsurprising then that the tick for that question at the Quiz went against their name. The 1995 African champions are sitting on a minus-10 goal difference that they will not improve to a positive, even if they were to field a team made up of their greatest stars ever since their formation back in 1937 for this afternoon’s final league match against Golden Arrows.

Orlando Pirates coach Kjell Jonevret. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Someone was quick to point out that I needed only to have remembered the six goals they conceded, not once but twice this season, to have figured out Pirates was the answer and we probably wouldn’t have brought up the rear. In the heat of the competition, though, such memories sit way back in the mind.

In any case, Pirates could well banish those embarrassing defeats for good by not only ending the season victorious at Arrows, but by also capturing the Nedbank Cup title on June 24, when they take on defending champions SuperSport United.

Win there and an 80th anniversary season that is teetering on the brink of disaster would be salvaged.

Kjell Jonovret, the Swedish coach who took over midway through the season, seems to be aware of what’s at stake if his utterances are anything to go by. The question is whether the players do.

Big clubs such as Pirates have been built on sweat, tears and even blood – with many men (and women) having given their all, often at the detriment of themselves and their families.

And it is incumbent upon those presently bestowed with the honour of carrying the flag to reflect the club’s history and ensure that they add their bit to the legacy.

Right now, with Pirates being the answer to a quiz question such as the one I got wrong on Thursday, I am inclined to assume Oupa Manyisa and Co have not truly reflected.

For if they did, they probably would have played with much more passion than they have displayed this season, and the club wouldn’t be facing the ignominy of a maiden negative goal difference that looks set to bring with it a first failure to finish in the top eight.

And that bloody question wouldn’t have been in the quiz, and we probably wouldn’t have finished stone last.

Saturday Star

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