2017 'heroes' and 'zeros'
Posted: 31 December 2017 Time: 14:00
KickOff.com reflects on some of the positives and negatives that took place in South African football this past year.
The emergence of Percy Tau was exciting to watch in 2016, but the Mamelodi Sundowns forward has grown from strength to strength in 2017 as he mesmerized fans with a number of silky displays both for his club side and Bafana Bafana. Should he continue in this vein, 2018 could be an interesting year for the 23-year-old.
The reigning KICK OFF Footballer of the Year enjoyed his best year of his career, captaining Cape Town City to a fourth-place finish in their maiden PSL season in 2016/17, before bagging the Absa Premiership Footballer of the Season, Player’s Player of the Season and Top Goal Scorer accolades. His move to Turkish side Konyaspor was also a massive achievement for the 27-year-old.
‘Phaka’ returned from a serious knee injury that kept him out of action for 10 months last year, but the 20-year-old winger made up for lost time as he bagged the Absa Premiership Young Player of the Season award in June. He was subsequently invited to trials with Portuguese premier league outfit Vitoria Guimaraes and, though he failed to earn a move to Europe, secured himself in the history books as the first ever South African to ply his trade in Egypt when he joined Al Ahly in September.
Winning their first ever top-flight championship was an incredible moment that will undoubtedly remain in the minds of all linked with the club. Though their start to the 2017/18 season has been dreadful, ending the year in bottom place on the Absa Premiership standings, their historic feat overshadows their shortfalls this year.
2017 will go down amongst the greatest years for the South African under-20 national side, having equalled their second-best finish of fourth-place at the U-20 AFCON in Zambia in March, subsequently qualified for just their third FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, where they were eliminated at the group stages.
The South African national team’s failure to qualify for yet another FIFA World Cup is what everyone will remember of the team in 2017. Having beaten Nigeria in their opening 2019 AFCON qualifier in June, much was expected from Stuart Baxter’s side, but back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde has left a bitter taste in the mouths of supporters.
Rantie and Serero
The European-based Bafana Bafana stars put their own interests ahead of the country’s when they both snubbed the national team during the crucial FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. Both players made themselves unavailable for selection ahead of the final two qualifiers against Senegal in November, when a place in Russia was still within reach.
The refereeing in the PSL stooped to an all-time low in 2017, with horrid decision affecting a number of Absa Premiership matches. Perhaps the most notable of these was referee Cedric Muvhali and linesman Patrick Jafta, who were both suspended following their howler in denying Cape Town City a legitimate goal in their 1-0 victory over Polokwane City in September.
When Stanley Menzo was announced as the new Ajax Cape Town coach in October last year, the team were struggling down in 15th place with just two points from their first six games. He managed to remedy the situation, saving them from relegation and leading them to a 10th-place finish in May. However, in the first half of the 2017/18 campaign, Ajax are right back where he found them – in 15th place – with just three wins in their 14 games thus far, and he has now been replaced by Muhsin Ertugral.