‘Finals’ tough for sides facing relegation
For the bottom-placed clubs in the Absa Premiership, every game between now and the season’s end is a final.
Mathematically speaking, any of the five bottom-placed sides could still go down, as they cannot catch Golden Arrows, who are on 33 points with four games remaining.
Bloemfontein Celtic, Polokwane City, University of Pretoria, Jomo Cosmos and Maritzburg United need to reach 33 points to guarantee safety.
For Cosmos and University of Pretoria, their “finals” start this afternoon at Olen Park.
Cosmos will host AmaTuks in what is an absolutely pivotal game for both sides to survive relegation this season.
This is a six-pointer of note, as no one can afford to drop points.
A six-pointer is a game when your team and the team above you are on the same or similar points, so if you win, you get three points but at the same time stop the other team from getting three points – so it’s considered a contest over six points.
The two teams have almost everything in common: from the same number of games (26) to number of wins (5), losses (15), draws (6), goals conceded (35) and points (21).
The only difference is the number of goals scored.
With this in mind, the sides will want to use one another as a stepping stone towards safety while condemning the other to the National First Division.
Cosmos go into the game on the back of a four-game winless streak in all competitions. They arrested their losing run when they were held to a goalless draw by Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.
In fact, Ezenkosi last won a game more than a month ago, in March, when they beat Kaizer Chiefs.
After putting in a good run, which saw them collect four points on the road in their previous two games, AmaTuks’ impressive run was curtailed by Chiefs, who beat them 2-1 on Wednesday.
But Shaun Bartlett should fancy his chances against Jomo Sono, as his side have not only been playing good football but have been creating and converting their chances.
They will need to keep doing that this afternoon – anything less than a victory could spell trouble for the university side, particularly with log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns next on their menu on Wednesday.
They would want to go into the Tshwane derby on the back of a convincing victory.
Sono would rather play for a draw than drop all three points, even though this would not help his chances of survival much.
Cosmos’ next two fixtures are away to Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows before wrapping up the season against Maritzburg United. A win for either side will give them breathing space, while a draw will not change the status quo at the bottom. Another potentially explosive encounter is between Celtic and Ajax at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium this afternoon.
TIME UP Jomo Sono
INSPIRATION Shaun Bartlett