After yet another disappointing National First Division season, Mthatha Bucks have turned their attention to next season as they hope to qualify outright for the PSL in the 2018-19 season.
Amathol’amnyama fell short of qualifying for the promotional playoffs, finishing eight – just six points from position three, an automatic playoff berth.
The curtain coming down on the NFD league ended what should have been a good season for the team as up until the last five games of the campaign, Bucks were still very much on course of joining Black Leopards in the promotional playoffs against the team that will finish 15th in the Premier Soccer League.
But the wheels came off at the last hurdle as the team pulled a Proteas and choked when they needed to deliver the most.
Bucks general manager Luxolo Matikinca said they had put the season behind them and were concentrating on next season.
To make sure that there will be continuity, the team is currently negotiating with coach Ian Palmer with the hope of extending his stay with the Eastern Cape side.
“Right now we have to go back and sit with the bosses and reflect on what we did right and what we did wrong this season.
“It’s normal for teams to not renew contracts of some players. Even if we would been promoted to the PSL, some players’ contracts would not have been renewed.
“But with that said, it is always good to have continuity,” he said while waiting to board a plane from the OR Tambo International Airport to East London after their 3-0 thumping of Black Leopards on Sunday.
Matikinca said a quick assessment of the team’s season pointed at too many draws in the first round of the season.
Bucks managed 21 points before the mid-season break in December before adding another 22 in the second half.
It is always crucial for teams to get as many points as possible during the first round before teams know their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and to get maximum points at home, he said.
Matikinca said while many might see Bucks as having failed to finish at least third on the log, he saw improvement from last year’s 30 points – which was just enough to survive relegation.
“It took Thanda [Royal Zulu] eight years to return to the PSL,” he said.
“If we go and do better next season, we will either gain automatic promotion to the PSL or qualify for the playoffs.
“We have to set new targets for next season.”