Thu, 20 Jun 2019

Cape Town - He was nicknamed "The Black Prince" during his spectacular playing career with Orlando Pirates - but Jomo Sono has plummeted from his pedestal, with the club he now owns, Jomo Cosmos, barely a point off relegation from the second tier National First Division (NFD) during the immediate past Absa Premiership season.

Not only have the one-time PSL champions and leading lights, who purchased the now-revived Highlands Park's franchise in 1983, lost their aura, but Sono has also been mired this year by controversies surrounding the non-payment of player salaries in a lacklustre season.

The indefatigable Sono, however, is not deterred and with the help of a link-up with Brazilian club Gremio, is echoing the well-worn old sporting maxim of "we'll be back."

Sono says he has already billeted five promising young Cosmos, players with Gremio in what could emanate in two-way traffic with the Brazilian club, while also assuming an honorary position on the Gremio board.

But if the future has a glimmer of hope for Sono's Cosmos, the present is far from bright and glory from the past is only a distant memory.

In the past 10 seasons Cosmos have yo-yo'd from the Absa Premiership to the NFD and after three deflating relegation periods spent eight of these years in the lower echelon.

And this from a club that not only enjoyed a golden era while winning the PSL championship in 1987, finishing runner-up in 1988 and annexing several knock-out cup titles at the same time.

Strangely, in view of Sono's popularity bordering on hero-worshipping as a player, Cosmos have never enjoyed wide spectator appeal - and this, no doubt, has contributed to the club's decline as "The Boss" has unsuccessfully moved from venue to venue in order to end the spectator impasse.

Some have also suggested Cosmos might benefit from Sono relinquishing his position as club coach and concentrate his attention on running the club in a wider sense.

But what has wryly been called "the boss firing the boss" is not likely to happen in view of Sono's unshakable resolve that he knows better than anyone what is best for his team!

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