LIKE a ship whose captain has lost its radar, defending champions Orlando Pirates seemed to be going off-course last week losing 1-3 to nine men Civics, and they could find themselves sinking further into oblivion if they repeat the same clueless performance against Eleven Arrows this weekend.
On Tuesday, 13 players attended the team’s training session while 15 more went AWOL including Samson John, who later handed in his resignation.
“I can’t stand this anymore,” said John, who is likely to head African Stars’ way.
But club owner Hendrik Dawids remains defiant that all is well in the champions’ dressing room.
“It’s just too early to make conclusions. There is no power struggle. My coaches are beginning to understand that they are not walkovers anymore in the league,” said Dawids.
Pirates have not provided a team sheet to the media since Mario Carerra left the club four games ago, or rather since David Snewe became Technical Director.
There seems to be no criteria on which the two coaches, Brian Isaacs and David Snewe select the team until the last minute.
During the match, Snewe was seen calling the shots, making changes and talking to players during injury water breaks, whilst the country’s number one coach cast a pale shadow of himself. Isaacs is number one in the sense that he is second in command in the national team and is still the championship winning coach.
“We cannot press panic buttons, we have just lost our second match this season,” said club official Maboos Vries when a host of Pirates fanatics surrounded him in protest after the game.
For a man who beat Civics 2-0 just three months ago, Isaacs could have simply carried on with the same fine form that saw him embark on a 29 unbeaten match streak.
The club has drawn four times and lost twice in half their games this season, that’s 4/18 potential points gone begging - an unacceptable 22% failure rate for the defending champions in a league where African Stars are landlords.
Everyone has been willingly avoiding the reality that they are now two bulls in one crawl.
“Both coaches are working closely together; one has the short-fall which the other doesn’t have, vice-versa. It’s too early to draw conclusions,” said Dawids.
When Riaan Cloete was sold to Angola to be replaced by Meraai Swartbooi, Brian Isaacs never sought to use him “because he was overweight.”
For more than five games, Meraai did not even feature in his first eighteen.
Enter David Snewe; Swartbooi starts getting football ‘airtime’, and what a waste he was against Civics. Then comes the dull substitution criterion. The club’s top goal scorer Samson John has never been substituted willy-nilly. Against Civics, not only Samson but also the fans protested the player’s removal for Snewe’s son Nicodemus Hifitikeko, a new arrival from Mighty Gunners.
Besides Swartbooi, another premier league misfit who followed Snewe from Mighty Gunners, Stanley Kamesiepo, also played the full match against Civics, while Sidney Uri-Khob, described by Tom Saintfiet as the “next Colin Benjamin”, warmed the bench.
Ivan Makina, a hard tackling defender, was played in midfield where traffic is busy, but was sent off after 15 minutes having receiving two yellow cards. “The player blames it on Snewe’s new tactics because Brian has never played him in midfield,” a teammate said after the game.
Pirates succumbed to their biggest defeat in two years against a nine men Civics. No doubt Brian Isaacs has been slowly relegated to PR of the technical team.
Snewe arrived from Mighty Gunners with a personal record of 8games-0wins, 0draws and 21 goals conceded - the same number of goals Pirates had scored up until then and Infomanté has it on good authority that Brian is bound by a contractual clause and is waiting for the season to end whereby his contract will expire as he us unable to breach it.
The Pirates ship will sail to the coastal town of Walvis Bay this weekend and although it may be running off the radar, another defeat against Eleven Arrows might just confirm that they are indeed sinking. - Confidence