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SA SOCCER NEWS
2003/04 Season : team by team, volume 2... 14/06/04
SASoccer365 journalist Anthony McLennan looks at the performances of the team's who finished in positions 5-8 in the 2003/04 Castle Premiership  season.

Click here to see team 1-4, or read on for teams 5-8...

Orlando Pirates

By their own high standards the 2003/04 season was a very poor one for the defending PSL champions.

Their season was disrupted early on when coach Roy Baretto left for Manning Rangers, but this was no excuse as care-taker coach Augusto Palacious stepped in and did a good job with the team.

The fact that the Buccaneers scored the second most number of number of goals in the league cannot be credited to their strike force, which has struggled in the absence of the late Lesley Manyathela, but rather to the teams highly talented midfield.

Bennedict Vilakazi has had a brilliant season and without his 13 goals the Sea Robbers would have found themselves much further down the table.

Fellow midfielders Joseph Makhanya, Bheka Phakathi, Steve Lekoelea and Hleza Mofedi have all contributed to the teams goal tally as well.

What needs to be done for next season

Clearly the Bucs are lacking in the striking department. The emergence of Lebogang Mokoena, who looks set for a big future has been a big plus point for Palacious, but the 17-year-old cannot be expected to shoulder the burden of the strikers responsibilities by himself.

Pirates need to acquire the services of a striker in the mould of a Pollen Ndlanya or a Chippa Masinga - someone who can hold the ball up and bring the speedy Mokoena and the attacking midfield players into the game.

The problem is that there are not too many top quality strikers around and the Pirates scouts might need to delve into the African market to solve their problem.

Bucs midfield quality speaks for itself, while their defensive unit are certainly better than the 30 goals they conceded this season. The return of fitness of Lucky Legwathi is a big boost, while Edward Malinga looks set to mature into an international class centre back.

Santos

A solid yet unspectactular season for the Cape side - finishing in sixth place and reaching the semi-final of the Absa Cup.

The Peoples Team have been accused of relying too much on their aging stars, but coach Boebie Solomons has also done well to blend in some young players, and the likes of Tyren Arendse, Marawaan Bantam and Thembile Kanono will be charged with taking the club into the future.

Santos finally enjoyed the luxury of having a sponsor when Engen joined with them earlier in the season and the club will be looking to become a major force in the league now that they have the financial backing they require.

What needs to be done for next season

The teams defenders might be getting on in age, but they make up for this with their vast experience. Solomons also has the luxury of having versatile players such as Musa Otieno and Sebastian Bax in the team, who can play in the middle or at the back.

There is plenty of talent in midfield - Arendse looks set for Bafana Bafana recognition if he carries on with his current form, while Batam and Kanono are highly talented playmakers with an eye for goal and great vision and passing ability.

The area that will need strengthening is the striking department - goals win matches and Santos may find these hard to come by next season.

Veteran striker Jean Marc Ithier is closing in on 40 and can no longer be counted on to play full games, while Fees Moloi is injury prone and also nearing the twighlight of his career.

Lebohang Kukame was signed from Rangers during the season, but the former Cosmos striker has yet to live up to his potential and is unlikely to find the back of the net regularly - the Peoples Team definitely need another striker if they are to challenge for honours next season.

Moroka Swallows

Despite unhappiness from some Birds fans over the teams inability to challenge for league honours, they had an excellent season, winning the Absa Cup, reaching the SAA Supa 8 final and finishing in seventh place in the league.

Coach Gavin Hunt has done a great job, first helping the club to move out of the relegation zone on his arrival at Swallows, then helping them to a fourth placed finish last season, and now finally bringing home a trophy to the club for the first time in 13 seasons.

The signing of Lungisani Ndlela from relative obscurity was a master-stroke from Hunt as the lanky striker went on to have a great season, scoring nine times in the league and also getting the all-important equaliser in Sundays Absa Cup final.

What needs to be done for next season

Without doubt the Birds defence needs boosting - the loss of George Hummel to Russia was a big blow, and despite scoring the second highest number of goals in the league, the Dube Birds were unable to challenge for league honours because of the amount of goals they leaked.

Warren Lewis and Gary McNab are quality experienced defenders, but they are both getting on in age and Hunt will need to boost his team by buying a young centre back with lots of pace.

Black Leopards

A great season for the team from Limpopo - grabbing the final spot in next seasons SAA Supa 8 competition after almost tasting relegation last season, and this despite loosing top striker Sibusiso Dlamini to Chiefs and also having had three different coaches.

The turning point in their season was definitely the arrival of former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba - when he joined the club was still in danger of entering the relegation battle, but a string of positive results saw them climb up the standings.

What needs to be done for next season

Not a lot -  Lidoda Duhva are not a big club and are unlikely to ever have the means to challenge the bigger clubs in the transfer market.

They rely on their team spirit and hard work ethic to pull them through and the clubs ownership should do their level best to keep Mashaba at the club as his influence has clearly lifted the team to new heights.

 

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