2017/18 Season review: Polokwane City
Posted: 25 June 2018 Time: 18:30
With the 2017/18 season officially over, KickOff.com looks back at each club’s campaign over the past year, reviewing their relative success, failures and where improvement is needed.
Continuing alphabetically, today we analyse the exploits of Limpopo-based Polokwane City.
After an acrimonious parting with Belgian coach Luc Eymael, Bernard Molekwa was handed the caretaker role at Rise and Shine, a position he’d hold for the entire duration of the campaign. Last year’s sixth-place finish would become a difficult target to achieve in consecutive years, made even harder by the club’s poor start to the campaign: they won just one of their first seven league matches of the campaign, dropping to as low as 14th on the Absa Premiership table.
Four draws over the next five games did little to help Polokwane’s cause, yet starting 2018 with a 3-2 win over Mamelodi Sundowns – thereby doing the double over the eventual league champions – had the club believing they could once again pull themselves up the table as they targeted a top-eight finish.
Yet nine draws in their last 13 games of the season would ultimately cost them in the end, as Rise and Shine ended the season in 12th, just two points off Golden Arrows in eighth.
Sixth place last year earned Polokwane a MTN8 ticket, yet they lasted just one game in the competition after Sibusiso Mbonani’s own goal handed Cape Town City a 1-0 victory in Benni McCarthy’s first match at the helm.
They fared a lot better in the Telkom Knockout, giving the competition a full go as they rode their luck to make it to the semi-finals. A penalty shootout victory over Ajax Cape Town in the Last 16 was followed by another penalty shootout victory over Orlando Pirates in the quarter-finals, before coming up short, again after spot-kicks, against beaten finalists Bloemfontein Celtic in the last four.
Rise and Shine could not follow up that impressive cup run in the 2018 Nedbank Cup, as they lost their first game 3-2 after extra-time to National First Division club Ubuntu Cape Town.
Despite boasting the third-highest shot accuracy (33.9%) of all 16 teams in the league, Polokwane had the lowest percentage of shots in the danger zone (25%) and the fourth-highest number of shots outside the box (6.7 per game), showing that they were often reduced to long shots from range when going forward.
Worryingly, Polokwane ended last on the rankings of number of ground duels won, winning just 43.2% of those tussles across the season.
Areas of improvement
Despite their lowly finish in the standings, Polokwane boasted the league’s joint-top scorer in Rodney Ramagalela this term, yet were heavily reliant on the former Sundowns and Arrows striker who scored 11 of their 31 goals across the campaign. Walter Musona was second with a tally of just six goals, with the club no doubt hoping a teammate or recruit will help ease Ramagalela’s load next term.
Another area of concern will be the side’s collective concentration in matches: they conceded five goals in the first 15 minutes of matches – the second-worst of all teams in the league – while in 12 games in which they were leading 1-0, they only emerged with three points on six occasions, losing one and drawing five of those games which ultimately cost them a top-half finish.