NFD’s top-vsbottom battle
Today’s National First Division (NFD) fixture between Baroka FC and Moroka Swallows is a glaring mismatch.
NFD top scorer Thabiso Kutumela has scored more goals than the Swallows team combined.
The Baroka FC talisman has netted 14 times halfway into the campaign, four more than Swallows’ total tally in 16 league matches.
Baroka – with 33 goals scored and 13 conceded – boast a +20 goal difference, while bottom-placed Swallows are sitting on minus 20, having scored 10 and let in 30.
These stats make the clash at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium seem one-sided, at least on paper, even before a ball is kicked this afternoon.
The two sides first met in an official match during the 2011 Nedbank Cup last 16, where Baroka pulled off a giant-killing act against the then fancied Swallows.
Bakgaga ba ga Mphahlele to their followers, Baroka thrive on Kutumela’s consistency in front of goal and an unbeaten run at home, where the team enjoy good support.
And if it’s not Kutumela, Nkosinathi Ndlovu has also delivered in the attack. The latter has seven league goals, placing him joint second in the charts.
The Birds’ problems on the pitch are exacerbated by the club’s cash flow problems, which has left coach Ian Gorowa with the task of guiding a group of players in distress over unpaid salaries.
Baroka’s coach, Kgoloko Thobejane, warned that his team would not be fooled by the problems besetting Swallows.
“Their result [2-1 loss] against AmaZulu last weekend indicates some form of improvement in the Swallows defence. Struggling sides are often difficult to crack because they sit at the back, and Swallows are likely to do the same against us,” said Thobejane.
Baroka won the first-round encounter 3-0 at Dobsonville in October.
The NFD has turned into an exciting and close competition. Baroka’s status as runaway leaders will be put to test in the next two months. They face Black Leopards, Cape Town All Stars, Highlands Park and AmaZulu – all still in with a chance at automatic promotion or a spot in the promotion play-offs.
On the flip side, the Birds are to face other teams in the relegation zone. They play 15thplaced Mthatha Bucks on February 13 and African Warriors (13th) on February 20.
In today’s other NFD fixtures, AmaZulu will host FC Cape Town at Princess Magogo Stadium in Umlazi township, Durban.
Rookies Mbombela United take on Black Leopards at KaNyamazane Stadium in Mpumalanga.
All matches kick off at 3.30pm.
POROUS Swallows goalie Aubrey Mathibe has struggled to keep clean sheets