5 talking points of the Covid-19 hit Premiership season
JOHANNESBURG - On Saturday, the curtain fell on a unique Premiership season, which started with the supporters filling up the stadiums but ended with Mamelodi Sundowns winning the title behind closed doors as a result of Covid-19.
IOL Sport’s MIHLALI BALEKA looks at five notable moments of the season.
1 Kaizer Chiefs hold the umbrella for Mamelodi Sundowns
Tied on 56 points heading to the last day of the season, leaders Chiefs and second-placed Sundowns were neck and neck going into the final round of fixtures. But their tasks were made even more dofficult as they faced relegation-threatened sides Baroka FC and Black Leopards respectively.
But it was the Brazilians that proved they had the mettle when it mattered most, as their 3-0 win over Leopards ensured that they clinched the crown at the end on 59 points, while Chiefs, who were at the top for 379 days, could only finish second after drawing 1-1 with Baroka.
2 Bidvest Wits left stranded on 99 ...
South African football was dealt with another blow as its oldest club Wits was sold due to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila ahead of the new season for financial reasons.
Experts say that they saw it coming after the club went toe-to-toe with the big three – Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns – in the market in order to end their 95-year wait for the league title during the 2016-17 season.
3 Polokwane City go from hero to zero
A season after bagging a record fifth-placed finish in top-flight football, Polokwane City were relegated to the GladAfrica Championship this term. Their demise came under the watchful eye of astute coach Clinton Larsen.
But their fall was not entirely Larsen's fault. In fact, the management played a huge role when they hired the unknown Zlakto Krmpotic.
In his five matches at the helm, Krmpotic led the Rise and Shine to the summit of the standings after four wins in six matches, but such was the teams’ poor form that they went on to lose five matches on the trot.
4 Taste of life in ’bio-bubble’
Since the establishment of the National Soccer League (NSL) in 1996, football in the country has been themed 'for the fans'. Thousands of supporters flocked into stadiums on match-day, adding colour and sound to matches.
But 2020 was a different story. The league concluded its business without any single fan in sight due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But that justice was served and business concluded on the pitch, should serve as consolation.
5 Absa pulls the plug on sponsorship ...
After 16 years of walking side-by-side with the Premier Soccer League (PSL), banking group Absa decided not to renew their contract with the league. Well, they didn’t cite the pandemic for that decision, but seem rather keen to scratch other surfaces.
That was a massive blow, not only for the league, but the football fraternity at large. Absa, after all, also involved the public in their programmes, considering the “Woza Nazo Kick-For-A-Million” initiative was all about the fans.