Over the years we’ve witnessed some great teams falling short of winning the Premier Soccer League title and our writer takes us down memory lane.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Ajax Cape Town 2010/11
This team comprised the likes of Willard Katsande, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Khama Billiat, George Maluleka, Thulani Serero, Brent Carelse, Sameehg Doutie, Cecil Lolo, Amigo Memela, Hans Vonk, Nazeer Allie, Clayton Daniels and Thembinkosi Fanteni to name a few.
This golden generation of Urban Warriors exhibited exciting football under the tutelage of Dutch mentor Foppe De Haan assisted by the legendary Wilfred Mugeyi. Going into the last game of the season against Maritzburg United with their destiny in their own hands they failed win the game and got pipped by Orlando Pirates to the title instead.
The game will be remembered for a terrible goalkeeping blunder by Vonk who couldn’t get a backpass under control to hand Gert Schalkwyk an equaliser after Billiat had opened the scoring. Diyo Sibisi who was on loan from the very same Ajax scored against them only for Doutie to strike late to salvage a point which saw them finish locked on 60 points with Orlando Pirates who won their game against AmaZulu and lifted the league due to a superior goal difference.
Orlando Pirates 2018/19
The Buccaneers were expected to run away with the league title in Milutin Sredojevic’s second season at the helm of the club. He had taken over a team that finished 11th and guided them to a second place finish in his first season.
Going into the second last fixture against Cape Town City, Sredojevic’s men were tied on 53 points with eventual winners Mamelodi Sundowns who occupied second place at the time but they threw away a 2-1 lead and drew 2-2, which handed the Brazilians a huge advantage in the finale. Pirates won their last game against which was against Polokwane City convincingly but it wasn’t enough to hand them the league title as Masandawana did what they had to do which was beat relegation bound Free State Stars.
Moroka Swallows 2011/12
Gordon Igesund was looking to win his fifth league title with a fifth different team having done so with Mamelodi Sundowns, Santos, Orlando Pirates and Manning Rangers. This side boasted the likes of Siyabonga Nomvete who scooped almost every personal accolade at the end of the season, Lefa Tsutsulupa, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Greg Etafia, Macbeth Sibaya and Lerato Chabangu.
After sitting atop the standings for the better part of the season they fell short in the run in and the double treble winning Orlando Pirates side capitalised to finish two points above them.
Orlando Pirates 2004/05
This is a team that football fans around the world will remember for their criticism of dribbling Tottenham Hotspur during a pre-season invitational game. Kosta Papic took over the coaching reigns from Augusto Palacious who was the club’s caretaker coach and head of development and he inherited a team that had just won the league.
Papic’s was armed with the likes of Gift Leremi, Lebohang Mokoena, Steve Lekoelea, Benedict Vilakazi, Joseph Makhanya and Edelbert Dinha. At some point they were leading by a whopping 13 points but they relinquished the advantage to let Kaizer Chiefs finish ahead of them on the last day.
Kaizer Chiefs 2000/01
Former Kaizer Chiefs PRO Putco Mafani used to call this team “Operation Thatha Zonke” or “Operation Vat Alles” as they lifted almost every trophy on offer but the league title eluded them. This Amakhosi team won the African Cup Winners’ Cup, BP Top Eight Cup and the Coca Cola Cup but they finished ninth in the league.
The prominent players at the time include Brian Baloyi, Jabu Mahlangu, Doctor Khumalo, Siyabonga Nomvete, Arthur Zwane, Patrick Mabedi, Thabo Mooki and Cryril Nzama.