Bay could ‘die a real death’ if they are relegated

Former Baroka FC coach Kgoloko Thobejane should be bestowed with the Order of Mapungubwe, South Africa’s highest honour for coining the phrase that “football can kill you – football can kill you a real death, you will die because of football”.

Thobejane may not be the Shakespeare of coaching, nor the Jose Mourinho of SA but his pearls of wisdom have left a legacy in Mzansi football circles.

He uttered the famous words after his side relinquished a comfortable lead and were clobbered in the dying minutes of the game. These days, after almost every intense soccer match, Kgoloko’s tight rhymes are quoted extensively in taverns, radio stations, trains, churches, political gatherings, in factories and everywhere else where football is a religion.

Watching the current DStv log standings, I could not help but feel for KZN newbies Richards Bay FC. The Natal Rich Boyz, as the club is devotedly known, were having a jol in their maiden season in the paid ranks. They were cruising along so nicely, sitting on number two that they even forgot to check the rear-view mirror.

At some point, they were indirectly tasked with the most difficult responsibility of chasing and challenging the all-conquering and fearsome Mamelodi Sundowns for the league honours – when the recognised top dogs of SA football Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were capitulating like teenagers at a matric dance after party.

This was rather unfair on the new kids on the block. But they held their own and produced some mouth-watering upsets. They held on to the spot for most part of the season as Masandawana widened the gap at the top and the others knocked each other about like a bunch of kindergarten kids at the playground.

Bizarre as it may sound, they were number two on the table but in terms of points, they were closer to the cellar dwellers than they were to log leaders Sundowns.

As the league race took its toll on the participants, the marathon reached the Polly Shortts and Rich Boyz suddenly looked like paupers – they reminded me of Comrades Marathon stalwart Hosea Tjale back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He would lead the race for longest of kilometres, only to find himself dragging his carcass along the tarmac like a punctured VW Beetle as Bruce Fordyce gave him a handshake and left him eating dust.

Richards Bay are not looking good at this point. They have been sucked into the relegation quagmire and could see themselves fighting for survival, or even taking part in the relegation/promotion play-offs if they don’t pull up their socks. With two matches to go before the end  of the season for all the clubs, Bay are now on 13th position with 32 points. The rock bottom Maritzburg are on 26 points and can catch up with Richards Bay, even though they have a better goal difference. The 15th-placed Chippa United are on 29 points and could surpass Bay if they win their last two matches and Bay lose their remaining games.

The relegation battle has been more interesting than the title race. On Wednesday we saw four positional changes in the relegation dogfight in just a matter of minutes. Chippa, Marumo Gallants and Maritzburg were involved in the relegation scrap, and they kept on changing places like musical chairs. So, Bay had better open their eyes and catch a wake-up, unless they want to go back to the Motsepe Foundation Challenge, where clubs are known for “dying a real death”.

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