New PSL season: Komphela has youngsters to work with at Arrows
Last season Lamontville Golden Arrows looked to have a chance for rare trophy success but blew that in the Nedbank Cup semifinal against TS Galaxy‚ and also finished outside of the top eight‚ having changed coach in mid-season.
In 2019-20 they will bid again to try and better their best ever finishes of fifth place in 2003 and 2009.
Arrows are usually in a battle either for a top eight place or trying to avoid the drop‚ and because of their limited budget and resources are rarely found among the league’s frontrunners.
Coach Steve Komphela had Bloemfontein Celtic top of the table in the early stages of last season and could do the same again with Arrows again but ultimately‚ because of a lack of depth in their squad‚ Abafana Bes’thende seem unlikely to be able to sustain a challenge.
Arrows again look internally to their successful academy to produce talent as they have made just one major signing for the new campaign‚ with Gladwin Shitolo coming in from Orlando Pirates on loan. He had spent last season out on loan as well‚ at Chippa United.
They have lost Limbikani Mzava and Wayde Jooste to Highlands Park and veteran Siyanda Zwane to Bidvest Wits. Arrows have a heavy dependence on Zimbabwean imports Divine Lunga‚ Knox Mutizwa and Danny Phiri‚ who all went to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations.
They have also added Edmore Sibanda‚ who played in the goal in the tournament for Zimbabwe‚ and had an inspired performance as Zimbabwe lost the tournament-opening match against the hosts 1-0.
A highly charged and pacey game has always been the way at Arrows‚ who have produced some prized individual talent over the years but not been able to do so collectively. With Komphela there is less of the helter-skelter approach but still much accent on the strengths of the side‚ particularly their pace.
Arrows scored only 27 goals in 30 league matches last season – the joint second-worst in the Absa Premiership -- and they will need to sort this out if they are to avoid dropping down into trouble.
Arrows start the season at home with a derby match against Maritzburg on Sunday‚ staying at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont after moving there midway through last season after giving up on Preincess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu.
Their second game is away at Bloemfontein Celtic‚ where Komphela comes up against his old side‚ before hosting Chippa United and ending the month away at Pirates.