Here’s a reminder of the players we let go. Everyone from Jacobs down was a youth player who wasn’t going to make it here, and all of whom have found new clubs. Among the first team players, Khumalo has signed for SuperSport and Teyise has signed for Orlando Pirates, but the rest remain free agents for now.
We’d been preparing to lose Petersen and Nxumalo to Wits for a long time: their transfers were pre-arranged at the start of the save. Mukumela, however, was a sale we weren’t planning for. But I’ve made a rule of letting my players go to Europe if they want, and Eredivisie runners-up Groningen made an acceptable offer for our star right back, so off he goes to the next step of his career. I’ll certainly miss him, but I wish him all the luck in the world.
With those transfers out, our depth chart looked like this, with a lot of 2nd XI spots to fill for the upcoming season. Thus, my work began.
Finalized Depth Chart
With our transfer business complete, the squad now looks like this heading into the season. February, Kammies, Bull, Sasman, and Verhaar have been promoted to the 1st XI, and Nhlapo has switched from CD to BPD to accommodate Bull’s promotion. Masilake Phohlongo is still the odd man out, but I plan to switch formation to a 4-2-3-1 at times to incorporate him as either an Enganche or Trequartista, so he won’t be out in the cold by any stretch of the imagination.
Kammies and Abrahams’ ratings have decreased from Gold toGreenas a result of their potential taking a hit, and Monama’s has increased from Blue toGreen thanks to some excellent performances last season.
The media predicts that we’ll finish in 7th this season, with a 16-1 shot of winning the whole thing. Sundowns have the best odds at 3-1, but I’d be surprised if they did after a poor 5th-placed finish last season. Fellow new boys Cape Umoya are predicted to go down, with last season’s surprise packages Black Leopards slated to finish in the relegation playoff spot. Nel and Bull are expected to be our key players, which shows how far they’ve both come already.
The board expects that we finish in the top half in the Premiership, reach the quarter final of the Telkom Knockout, reach the semi final of the Nedbank Cup, and go all the way from the qualifiers to the quarter final in the CAF Confederation Cup. That’s a bit higher than I thought it would be for our first season back in the big time, but I’m confident that we can meet most- if not all- of those goals.
Our friendly campaign started routinely, but got truly impressive at the end, when we held Argentine champions Boca Juniors to a scoreless draw and then comfortably beat Mexican giants Chivas 3-1 at the Cape Town Stadium. I don’t know exactly what this means in terms of how good we are, but it was delightful to watch and gives us even more confidence heading into the season.
I can’t wait to get this show on the road. As I’ve said many times before, I think it’s going to be another incredible season.