Sec­ond-placed High­lands now in the spot­light

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Na­tional First Di­vi­sion’s penul­ti­mate fix­tures are more im­por­tant than the fi­nal round next week­end.

Al­most all the teams have some­thing to play for – ei­ther to get to the play-offs spot or guar­an­tee their sur­vival in the league.

Af­ter Baroka FC messed up their chances of clinch­ing the ti­tle when they lost to the bot­tom-of-the-log African War­riors on Wed­nes­day, pres­sure is on sec­ond-placed High­lands Park to cap­i­talise on these mis­for­tunes.

The ti­tle race for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion to the Absa Premier­ship is still alive, with High­lands the only side who could top­ple Baroka from the top.

High­lands need a vic­tory over Mthatha Bucks this af­ter­noon that would take them to the same num­ber of points with log lead­ers (59) but would re­main sec­ond be­cause of their in­fe­rior goal dif­fer­ence – un­less they score five or so goals with no re­ply.

But Bucks are also not out of the woods yet at the other side of the log and know that a vic­tory would guar­an­tee them an­other sea­son in the di­vi­sion.

High­lands, on the other hand, have been hop­ing and wait­ing for Baroka’s slip up and now that it has hap­pened they need to cap­i­talise on it.

Although Baroka still have the ad­van­tage, any­thing could hap­pen in the fi­nal round next week­end when they face Mi­lano at home – if High­lands, who play AmaZulu, put them un­der pres­sure.

This will be an epic clash as both sides have a lot to play for, al­beit for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

Fourth-placed Wit­bank Spurs also need three points to make sure of a place in the play-offs. For this to hap­pen, they would need to beat their near­est ri­vals, Royal Ea­gles, who trail them by a point.

But Ea­gles also know that this would be their only chance to over­take Spurs and get the third play-offs spot.

Mi­lano, who still have a chance of get­ting to the play-offs, host Vasco da Gama, who have noth­ing to play for but pride.

Mbombela would be out to con­sol­i­date their po­si­tion when they visit FC Cape Town, who are guar­an­teed sur­vival.

It is equally in­ter­est­ing at the bot­tom, as any two of the bot­tom five teams could still go down.

Moroka Swal­lows are back at the bot­tom of the log but a win over vis­it­ing Thanda Royal Zulu would put them over African War­riors.

Thanda are also not safe yet and would want the three points to guar­an­tee their po­si­tion.

Af­ter show­ing some signs of re­cov­er­ing from a poor run, Swal­lows were dealt a blow when they lost to San­tos at the week­end. This de­feat brought them back to the rel­e­ga­tion dog fight as they now need to win their re­main­ing two games – and pray.

De­spite their vic­tory over Swal­lows, San­tos could still go down if they fail to win their two games.

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