Cape Town – “Goals are what fuels the passion of football lovers,” said Braam Wessels, the Telkom and Telkom Knockout Cup sponsorship head at a PSL function this week.
Well, if true – and there are some valid reasons for the assessment – the passions of local soccer followers must presently be at an all-time low with the overall scoring rate of matches in the current Absa Premiership the worst in 59 years of professional soccer in South Africa.
Emphasising this bleak statistic was the timid 11 goals overall scored in the past weekend’s eight Absa Premiership games, reflecting the paltry average sum of no more than .68 of a goal per team.
But this only mirrors the overall scoring in all Absa Premiership games this season, in which 127 goals have been recorded in 68 matches at an average of approximately only 1.87 per game.
And what an indictment when no team in the Absa Premiership has come close to recording an average of two goals per game, with the present log leaders, Bidvest Wits, faring best in this respect with a relatively modest 1.4 goals per game.
As many as eight of the 16 Absa Premiership sides have managed less than a goal from their 10, nine, eight and seven matches – Maritzburg United, as an example, recording a mere two goals from seven matches; Baroka five goals in their 10 games; Golden Arrows five goals from nine matches; AmaZulu seven goals from eight games and so on.
So, what is the reason for the scoring slump? Lamentable, unprofessional finishing lacking in temperament and technique is probably at the top of the list, but credit should be given to the more concise and compact defences that most clubs have pieced together, with some pretty competent goalkeepers to boot.
Tactics also seem a factor in the teams’ low scoring rates, with many sides seemingly taking the field with the prime objective of not losing and coming away with the outcome of a draw being good enough.
And on the subject of draws almost 40 percent of the 68 games have ended with the teams ending on level terms.
As to the issue of the passion of soccer followers that was justifiably brought into question by Wessels, perhaps a greater degree of passion from the players might provide more goals as well.