Bucks coach still be­lieves

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za

De­spite strug­gling against the drop all sea­son long, Mthatha Bucks coach Velile “Veza” Dyaloyi main­tains his side is still on course for sur­vival.

“All we need is to save the team from rel­e­ga­tion – whether we fin­ish num­ber 13 or 14 [on the log], we would have sur­vived at the end of the day,” said Dyaloyi ahead of his team’s fix­ture against fel­low rook­ies Mbombela United at Mthatha Sta­dium in the East­ern Cape to­day.

Un­like United, Bucks have en­dured a rough time in their de­but sea­son in the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD), some­thing Dyaloyi be­lieves is a mat­ter of “luck not be­ing on our side”.

United are the sur­prise con­tenders in the race for pro­mo­tion, while Bucks only dragged them­selves off the foot of the ta­ble thanks to their 2-1 win over Moroka Swal­lows last week­end, a side they have now beaten twice this sea­son.

“We play good foot­ball and cre­ate chances, but goals are elud­ing us. We are get­ting the team into the right shape – men­tally and phys­i­cally,” said Dyaloyi, who is in his se­cond stint at the East­ern Cape-based club af­ter he suc­ceeded Julius Dube in Novem­ber. Amathol’am­nyama, as Bucks are known to their fol­low­ers, were two places above the rel­e­ga­tion zone be­fore this week­end’s fix­tures. With 11 games left, Dyaloyi says his side is de­ter­mined to build on re­cent per­for­mances, which saw them beat Swal­lows in Soweto and get a goal­less draw against AmaZulu two weeks ago.

“You don’t have to mo­ti­vate play­ers when you face the sides at the top,” said Dyaloyi in ref­er­ence to their fix­ture against United this af­ter­noon.

If there has been a stand­out fac­tor in Bucks’ bid for sur­vival, it has been vet­eran striker Moses “Mara” Span­deel.

The 35-year-old is the team’s lead­ing scorer, with four goals, and Dyaloyi de­scribed his ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paigner as a “dis­ci­plined player who re­lays in­struc­tions well on the pitch. He is quick and his ex­pe­ri­ence is car­ry­ing the team.”

Bucks lost 3-1 to United in the first round, but Amathol’am­nyama will draw in­spi­ra­tion from their de­cent run at home. They have not lost at Mthatha Sta­dium since their de­feat to Royal Ea­gles in Novem­ber last year.

Vic­tory to­day will see Bucks score rare back-to-back wins, as they have only done so once when they beat Swal­lows (on De­cem­ber 20) and Santos (on Jan­uary 12).

Bucks are the East­ern Cape’s only rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the NFD since Black­burn Rovers – coin­ci­den­tally Dyaloyi’s for­mer club – were rel­e­gated two sea­sons ago. AmaZulu vs Santos (Princess Ma­gogo Sta­dium) Mi­lano United vs Royal Ea­gles (Athlone Sta­dium)

Both matches kick off at 3.30pm

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACKPAGEPIX

OLD HEAD Vet­eran cam­paigner Moses Span­deel (se­cond from left)

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACKPAGEPIX

TOUGH TASK

Mthatha Bucks coach

Velile Dyaloyi

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