- Thursday, 03 May 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
When you’re in the kind of dark spot Pa Dembo Touray’s Santos find themselves in at the moment, you need to get lucky sometimes. But last night, Lady Luck probably thought she would rather stay under the covers than brave the cold at Athlone Stadium.
The glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel is fading fast for Santos as last night, they succumbed to yet another loss when they were beaten 1-0 by Free State Stars at their backyard – and it now looks like the Cape side will have to resign themselves to a spot in the promotion play-off at the end of the season.
The only consolation for Santos in defeat was that bottom club Jomo Cosmos also lost, 4-1 to Platinum Stars. It was the 17th defeat in 28 games for Pa Dembo’s Santos this season, the brutal statistic encapsulating what has been a sad, painful season for the once-proud Cape football club.
An illustration of their ineptitude is that, last season, Vasco da Gama ended in the promotion place – which they ultimately lost – but Vasco had lost just 14 games in the campaign. Santos are on 17 already, with two games to play – against AmaZulu (away) and Jomo Cosmos (home). The only way in which Santos can still salvage something is if things go horrible wrong at Black Leopards, who are one spot above the Capetonians.
As things stand, Leopards have 24 points (26 games), Santos 23 points (28 games) and Cosmos 16 points (26 games). At the other end of the Premier Soccer League [PSL] log, Orlando Pirates now have the inside track on retaining their title, thanks to a huge favour from their Soweto arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs last night. Chiefs beat second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0, which moved Pirates two points clear at the summit. And, with two games remaining, the other title-contenders have it all to do.
At Athlone last night, though, there was more evidence that this is just not Santos’ season. All manner of problems have been piling up throughout the campaign, from the sorry results and performances, a fine from the PSL for a bottle-throwing incident at Athlone, coaching upheaval and player unrest. And, last night, it was no different, as ahead of the fixture against Free State Stars, they were hit with the news that new coach Mart Nooij had fallen ill and was under observation in hospital.
It was to have been Nooij’s third match at the helm, after a win over Chiefs and a loss to Sundowns. Instead it was left to assistant-coach Duncan Crowie to call the shots from the bench. Santos were as schizophrenic as ever. In the first half, they employed their usual negative, defensive approach and paid the ultimate price.
They were played off the park by the organised, slick passing of the Free State team, who scored as early as the ninth minute when Togolese midfielder Sename Dové Womé Dobé ran through and clipped the ball beyond Santos keeper Pa Dembo Touray.
Santos, however, also have Pa Dembo to thank for keeping them in the match, as the giant Gambian pulled off brilliant saves to deny Edward Manqele and Katlego Mashego. In the second half, though, Santos emerged with a lot more purpose. They attacked with gusto, made some offensive substitutions, and even central defenders Nasief Morris and Wayne Arendse regularly popped up in the opposition’s penalty area.
Try as they might, though, the Cape side couldn’t break down the resolute Stars defence. In the end, they had to troop off, heads bowed, red-faced, with yet another embarrassing home defeat.