Over the past five seasons, the league title has been won more by teams that leak the least goals than those who score most goals. This for me was enough to prove the theory once derived by the three-time league winning coach Gavin Hunt, that “strikers win you games, defenders win you league titles”. The average number of goals conceded by teams that win the league is 25, while the number of goals scored by those very teams fluctuates dramatically. To further bear testimony that more goals scored do not necessarily guarantee league honours is the 2011/12 season, when Moroka Swallows hit the net on 48 occasions, but they ended up as runners up to Orlando Pirates, who only scored 39.
Now when you look at the goals conceded column, you find that as much as they were scoring freely, Swallows were very poor at the back, leaking 34 goals as opposed to the 26 let in by Pirates. The top goal scorer that season, Siyabonga Nomvethe had 20 goals, but his team ended up as the runners up on a dramatic last day of the season. When Chiefs won the league two seasons ago, they had scored the same amount of goals as Platinum Stars, and had even won less games than the Phokeng team, but the difference proved to be at the back, where Amakhosi conceded 21 in comparison to Dikwena’s 27.
Don’t get me wrong, teams need to score goals. That is what we’re always crying about and that’s what’s going to help our national team, but all these statistics are just to show that the defensive players, though they don’t get as much shine as the offensive ones, also have a very important role to play in any team’s success. The modern game has become so dependent on defensive midfielders that it’s one of the departments that ambitious teams need to make sure they have the best on the land. Germany just won the recent World Cup and my personal player of the tournament was Bastian Schweinsteiger.
He was just a soldier and few players came up tops when confronted by him. Last season’s Uefa Champions League was won by Real Madrid, and although he was unfortunate to miss the final, Xabi Alonso was largely responsible for them getting that far. The man is just class and can break down attacks from the best players in the world. This is why I feel Bayern Munich got a massive bargain with his purchase of 5 million pounds.