Santos join title race at final stretch

Santos have staged a spirited fight back PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Santos have staged a spirited fight back PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Akin to an excellent track runner, Uniao Flamingoe Santos have timed their title run to perfection, as the team has joined the leading pack on the final stretch.

The First Division South side are now second behind Gilport Lions, just three points off the pace with five matches to the finish line.

Santos have remained out of the picture since the season started, but The Saints as the Gabane club is affectionately known, have sneaked in.

The club has been altenating between the top flight and the First Division leagues in the last decade. The last time they climbed was at the expense of Motlakase Power Dynamos in the playoffs three seasons ago before their short stay in the elite league.

Their mettle will be tested in a heated battle that is wide open. Mathematically, even Red Sparks at position nine are in contention for a promotional play-off spot. Realistically the battle for the title is between anyone from seventh-placed Black Peril right up to the top.

The difference between Lions and Peril is seven points. Santos have had a notable run since the second round started. Lions, Jwaneng Fighters and Broadhurst that dictated the pace have been hot and cold lately. Santos started the first round languishing at position seven but has not lost a match in the fight back of the second around.

They have won four and drew three. Their coach, Innocent Ranku was worried about the number of draws despite outlining their perennial challenges, adding finances were a setback. By nature, Santos are a team that develops players and loses them to big clubs.

Ranku expects a similar situation if they progress. He said his squad was lean but potent in terms of skill and determination. The average age of the 20-men squad is 23 years, he said. He noted the club had not set any premiership target as the focus was on development.

“We are developing these young boys at our pace and it is a good thing to see how fast they are responding. We don’t put pressure on them and sometimes it amazes me how much they fight in the game,” he said.

“We are crippled financially, and we are struggling to maintain even the little squad that we have. We are just pushing with the hope that one day we would meet a messiah who sees the importance of our project.”

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