Baroka close in on campaign milestone
A win or a draw for Baroka FC today will see the National First Division (NFD) runaway leaders close in on an admirable record.
The Limpopo-based side host FC Cape Town at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane this afternoon in a game that could allow Baroka to reach the 40-point mark in the league table.
This feat could set them up to achieve the highest championship-winning points haul in the history of the NFD ( see box).
There is still a long way to go before the end of the NFD season, but Baroka should easily get to at least 50 points, but somewhere around 60 is a more likely reward from their remaining 12 league fixtures. They are not only well on course for automatic promotion at the end of the season, but to do it in style.
Fifty is the benchmark that has clinched previous editions of the NFD, aside from the 2012/13 season when Polokwane City earned their promotion via a slightly more modest tally of 49 points in a campaign that ended in controversy after clubs boycotted the opening fixtures and were docked points.
The target of 50-odd points has also usually proved good enough for at least a spot in the promotional play-offs, as has been the case with the teams that finished second and third on the NFD table in prior years.
Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane says his side does not read too much into the statistic, as Baroka have their own numbers to write.
“We take it one game at a time and the three points is all we target,” said Thobejane, whose side is now leading the pack with 39 points going into their game this afternoon.
In FC Cape Town, Baroka faces a tricky customer, considering that the bottom-placed visitors from the Mother City often bring their A-game against title-chasing sides.
Baroka can attest to this after their drawn first-round clash against the Capetonians in December.
Coach Johnny Ferreira’s side, who are fresh from a 3-1 thrashing of Vasco
Golden Arrows clinched the NFD with a record 60 points last season, while Chippa United amassed 58 in the 2013/14 season
University of Pretoria collected 55 points in the first season the NFD was reverted to a single stream, in 2011
Polokwane City earned their promotion via a paltry tally of 49 points during the 2012/13 season. It ended in controversy after clubs boycotted the opening fixtures and were docked points Da Gama last Saturday, also put one over second-placed Witbank Spurs last month.
However, a number of factors are in favour of Baroka heading into today’s fixture, especially against an opponent as vulnerable at the back as FC Cape Town.
Bakgaga ba ga Mphahlele, as Baroka is known to its followers, have thus far come away with three wins and two draws against the five Cape Town sides in the NFD. Baroka are also coming into the game on the back of five straight home wins in a nine-match unbeaten run.
Thobejane hinted that the team’s leading scorer, Thabiso Kutumela, could be rested today due to a “knock” he sustained during his side’s goalless draw against Black Leopards last weekend.
Kutumela is topping the scorers’ charts with 14 goals.
WINNING FEELING Baroka are marching on at the top of the NFD table