Next up on our list, we look back on Baroka FC’s 2017/18 season.
After negotiating the relegation play-offs last season, not much was expected from a Baroka side that had won just five of their 30 league games the previous year. Yet far beyond any PSL-loving fans’ predictions, Bakgaga enjoyed a stellar start to the new season, going unbeaten in their first eight matches, results which included a 1-1 draw with Orlando Pirates and a 2-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs. Following that result, they spent six consecutive weeks at the summit of the Absa Premiership table, and were declared Q-innovation winners over the first quarter of the season.
However, that was as good as it got for the Limpopo club, who failed to ride the crest of the wave as they gradually slipped their way down the standings. Reports of ill discipline involving coach Kgoloko Thobejane and players Oscarine Masuluke and Olaleng Shaku led to their suspension and eventual release, as MacDonald Makhubedu took charge. He couldn’t stop the slide however, lasting just six games as Doctor Khumalo sat on the bench for the final two games of the season, where despite a final-day 1-0 loss to SuperSport United, the club was able to avoid the play-offs, finishing just one berth above in 14th place.
Star man Talent Chawapiwa brought smiles to the Baroka faithful as his strike downed MTN8 finalists Cape Town City in the Last 16 of the Telkom Knockout, yet a 1-0 defeat to eventual champions Bidvest Wits saw them knocked out in the quarter-finals.
They did not fare any better in the Nedbank Cup, overcoming minnows Steenberg United 2-0 in the Last 32 before going down 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs in the next round.
Baroka conceded the most goals in the first half (19) of any team, while also conceding 38 goals in 30 games – the worst in the league, bar Ajax Cape Town, who had three 3-0 scorelines go against them owing to the Tendai Ndoro saga.
They also ended bottom of the league’s possession ranks, ending with an average of just 44% possession across their 30 games, while also attempting the least amount of passes (336) with the worst passing accuracy of any team in the league (70.2%).
Areas of improvement
Consistency seems to be the biggest letdown for Baroka, be it in their player or coaching department. At the start of the season, they proved they could mix it up with the big boys, but quickly ran out of steam. Wholesale changes have once again been promised by club management, leaving fans to tentatively wait to see which Baroka Football Club will show up next season.