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Give small teams a fighting chance

 

Moorosi Tsiane

THE countdown has begun to the much anticipated 2017/18 Vodacom Premier League season and supporters cannot wait to see their favourite teams take to the field to compete for the M200 000 first prize.

Champions, Bantu, begin their title defence against debutants Sefotha-fotha on 26 August at Setsoto Stadium.

While supporters of different teams are looking forward to the resumption of the league, Sefotha-fotha fans will probably be uneasy at the prospect of kicking off against the champions.

Fellow returnees, Majantja, kick off against last season’s strugglers, Linare.

Unfortunately the rules of football the world over are such that any team can open their league campaign against any side regardless of whether or not the fixture may be a David versus Goliath affair.

So it is Sefotha-fotha’s fate to begin with a match against giants, Bantu and this may seem like setting them up for failure.

I know it does not always follow that a small team will lose but when they receive a thrashing, this may affect their confidence for the remainder of the season.

As much as teams are given equal treatment in the premier league and there is no guarantee of any team beating the other, the truth of the matter is there will always be those big teams that have a psychological upper hand over others even before the ball has been kicked.

Yes there have been surprises when the likes of Likila and Sky Battalion managed top 8 finishes in their first season in the elite league.

But if we use last season as an example, Sky Battalion began their campaign against Linare which was already a mid-team table while relegated Butha-Buthe Warriors started with a mountain to climb against Matlama.

It was just downhill from there for Warriors as it seemed their poor showing against heavyweights Matlama haunted them for the rest of the season, culminating in their relegation.

I certainly accept these are the rules but it would give newcomers a fighting chance if their first matches were against mid-table teams.

That would help to build their confidence as it was with Likila who started against and beat Likhopo in their first season.

That really worked wonders for them as they built on that win and ended the season on fifth position.

Sky Battalion also benefited last season where they finished fifth.

It may be time to re-look the rules to give some of these small sides a fair chance. After all, most A Division teams do not even have sponsors but rely on the limited resources of some committed individuals.

 

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