FM20

(FM20) Stellenbosch – 2030/31 Season Review

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s another blog post from me! Another season down and my word what a year it’s been! Last season we cruelly missed out on the South African Premiership title, bottling it in the final game. The 2nd place finish however gives us Champions League football for this season, which is the most important thing currently in my Achievement Hunter challenge. Win it and I move on to the next continent! How did we do? Well let’s find out!

Transfers Out

As always let’s talk about the transfers first, we have lost a lot of players over the season. I don’t think I’ve ever rejected so many bids for players. In the end I caved in on a few, let’s see who was shown the door..

As you can see the majority of my outs were in the Winter window. Three players left in the summer, none were needed and I got rid. Then the Winter hit and the vultures circled. CM Whittle left as his contract was going to be up and he fell out of favour. Hadebe and Zimba were both youth players, I did very well to get that much for them. RW Leveh also left after he fell down the pecking order.

Then we come to the big two, CB Ouatarra and LB Nene. Outarra’s £400k release clause was met and I couldn’t persuade him to stay, a MASSIVE loss. Nene left in April as his release clause was met, again I couldn’t make him stay, we lost him for some of our most important games towards the end of the season.

So with a few out’s and with numerous gaps in the team I had to bring a few players, the squad needed major improvements to get past Orlando Pirates in the League but also challenge for the Champions League.

Transfers In

Vusi Matiwane – Attacking Midfield -£34.5k from Orlando Pirates

With back-up AM Marakane leaving on a pre-contract deal I had to bring in a new player. Matiwane looks quality and for such a low fee.

Thabang Molefe – Right Back – £375k from Orlando Pirates

A proper decent Right Back was top of my shopping list and this guy fits the bill. A big outlay but definitely worth it!

Samkelo Ntshingila – Striker – Free Transfer

A last minute signing, not bad for a free transfer. He will be my 4th choice Striker.

Mountaga Traore – Striker – Free from Académie JMG de Bamako

I said in my last post I needed a top quality Striker and this guy has it in bundles, and all for nothing! Maybe the best free transfer I’ve ever picked up!

Thulo Rammoneng – Goalkeeper – £155k from Wits

With both my back up keepers leaving I needed to bring in a No. 2 and Rommoneng looks brilliant, a rather large fee but he looks quality.

Sabelo Saleng – Central Defender – £130k from Cape Town City

The first of three Winter signings, with Ouatarra leaving I needed a new CB and Saleng is a worthy replacement.

Sipho Mthembu – Right Winger – £325k from Richards Bay

My replacement for Leveh, a top quality Right Winger who will be backup to Fernandao.

Darko Lalic – Central Midfield – £400k from TSC

A signing I didn’t really need. I’d been looking at this guy all Summer but the fee the club wanted was just too high, with his contract up in 6 months time TSC caved in and I had to pounce. An absolute steal!

So that’s all the signings! Quite a few but the squad needed a major boost. Would it be enough to win the League and even the Champions League? Let’s find out!!!

MTN8 Cup

First up is the MTN8 Cup, the top 8 teams in the League play in this, after last seasons win I wanted to reclaim it.

It started well with a good win over Baroka in the Quarters and a nice 2-legged win over Maritzburg in the Semis.

Into the final and we managed to avoid Orlando Pirates, we faced Free State Stars and after a tough 70 minutes we managed to break through and score twice to win the game 2-0! Nice and easy and a great start to the season!

Telkom Cup

The less said about this the better!

Nedbank Cup

So one cup success and one failure could we win the major South African cup competition?

I have say we rode our luck in every match! Round 1 – Won in extra time, Round 2 – eased through, Quarters – Extra time win, Semis – Won on penalties!

Absolutely mental. We sneaked through all the way to the final! Where we would again avoid Orlando Pirates and play Wits.

We were hot favourites and in a rather crazy final we came out a 3-0 winners! It could’ve been better, we missed 2 penalties (they missed 1) in one of the maddest finals I’ve ever witnessed!

So an fantastic season so far but could it get even better?!

South African Premiership

After last seasons bottle job we HAD to win it!

Well it started in normal fashion, I can’t remember the last time I had a poor start to a season! Over the first 3 months we played amazing, our defence started well but wasn’t the best overall, it was lucky were banging goals in. As October ended we had played 10, won 8 and drew 2! What a start!

Into December and a rather busy month. 6 games, it started well with 3 straight wins and then came the customary loss! A 2-1 defeat to Tuks, it came out of nowhere but it didn’t seem to slow us down as we won our next 2 scoring 8 goals!

At the mid season break we sat top, and 8 points clear. The title was in our hands…nearly!

As we entered the second half of the season we continued to not lose but we were drawing way too many games. Over February and March we won 4 and drew 3, with Orlando winning and winning and winning they closed the gap on us but this seemed to galvanise us.

April was a great month, it started with a draw but ended with a 3-1 demolition of Orlando! This meant with 4 games to go we needed 1 points to win the League!

No bottle job this time! May came around, next up Baroka and we won eased to a 2-0 win meaning we had won the League!!! Redemption for last season! 3 more wins followed meaning we had absolutely smashed it, take that Orlando!!!!

League Results – September – December

League Results – February – May

13 points clear of Orlando!! What an amazing season but could it get EVEN better?!

African Champions League

Here we go then, the big one! The competition I need to win to tick off one of the major achievements in my challenge, could we do it? If we do my rather short time in Africa is over!!

Now some context for you all. What I didn’t realise until the competition started was the last 8 winners of the Champions League has all come from…South Africa!! The omens were on our side surely!

First up the qualifiers and as expected we eased our way through, the 1st Round looked tough on paper but we hammered Egyptian side Ismaily putting us into the group stage.

Where funnily enough we would come up against my nemesis Orlando bloody Pirates. We also drew Stade Malien of Mali and Coton Sport of Cameroon. Surely we would qualify for the Knockouts?

Of course we did! 6 games, 5 wins and 1 draw at the hands of Orlando away. The home game we hammered them, we also hammered the other two meaning we ended the group stage as winners!

Into the Knockouts and in the Quarters we faced Congolese side TP Mazembe, it looked an easy win but when I looked at their squad they had some amazing players! I was concerned but my concerns were short lived as we dominated the away leg to take a 3-0 lead back to our place. With the League title in the balance I rested my key players for that game and we played poorly to only draw 1-1, the 1st leg had done it for us though and we were into the Semis!

The good news was Orlando has been knocked out meaning our big rivals were gone. In the semis we faced another Congolese side Vita Club and we absolutely smashed them! 4-0 away and 5-0 at home!!! An amazing run, an easy run but it was going to get tough!

Stellenbosch are into their first ever Champions League Final and we were against fellow South African side Polokwane City. 8 South African Champions League winners in a row and there was guaranteed to be a 9th but who would it be?

Polokwane had been having a shocking season, all the way down in 10th in the League, we had played them twice, a 1-0 win at home and a 1-1 draw away showed that the game wouldn’t be easy.

The first half was poor, little chances, lots of poor play, the long hard season had caught up with both of us but then right on half time there was a goal.

We got a corner, the first ball was cleared, it fell back to Mokhasi out on the right who swung it to the other side of the box, it was picked up by Left Back Madela (he was only playing as Nene has left 2 weeks before), he picked up and smashed it into the far corner! 1-0!!! Right on half time as well!

Into the second half and Polokwane were straight on the front foot, chance after chance but out of their 19 shots in the game they only troubled our keeper 5 times. With the game drawing to a close we went to our cautious style to hold out, everyone behind the ball. The frustrations got the better of Polokwane’s Moloi as he was sent off in the dying moments. With time running out Polokwane came at us, but we held firm, we then broke away, Mokhasi again the architect as he picked the ball up on the left, he got to the byline, cut it back straight to Matete who swept the ball into the net! 2-0!!!!!

Then the whistle blew, WE HAD DONE IT!!! AFRICAN CHAMPIONS!!!

Absolutely insane, I always thought we had a chance but to actually do it and at my first time of asking is just amazing! This season has been one of the best. 5 competitions enters, 4 won! Not much would top this!

Star Men

Let’s just take a quick look at who were my star performers this season…

First up has to be Left Winger Mokhasi, this guy just has the X-factor. Key in so many ways. He ended as the clubs player of the year with 69% of the vote! 43 games, 23 goals, 15 assists, absolutely incredible!

Right Winger Fernandao was also brilliant. He had his head turned in the Summer but I managed to keep hold of him and I’m so glad I did. 42 games, 11 goals and 17 assists. Superstar!

Last but by no means least is new Striker Traore. I needed a goalscorer and my word did I get one. 26 goals in 46 games. 12 in 14 in the Champions League!! One to keep an eye on throughout this save.

What Next?

I said it earlier so I’m sure this will come as no surprise but my time in South Africa is going to come to a rather abrupt end. Two and a half seasons of sheer joy. It’s been amazing but I have to keep moving to keep ticking off those achievements. The main thing at the moment is getting these Continental Champions League done. South America and Africa is now down, Asia and North America will be next. Once those are done I will then go back to Europe and find a club who I will hopefully spend the rest of FM20 at.

I know some people aren’t keen on moving clubs every few seasons but I hope you all understand my reasons. I’ve loved South Africa and I could stay here for more seasons but I don’t really have any chance of ticking off some of the other achievements at the moment. Let’s get all those Champions Leagues won!!!!

Below is some screenshots of my journey so far and the Achievement Hunter spreadsheet..

An amazing journey so far and I’m sure there are lots more memories to make!

Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading!

Lutterworth_Fox/Steve

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