Fire­works on the cards in PSL bat­tle for sur­vival

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

High­lands Park beat Mbombela United. Mbombela United beat Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria. There­fore, High­lands Park should beat Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria.

But there is no “there­fore” in foot­ball!

This is not how it works, as every game is dif­fer­ent.

So ex­pect fire­works when High­lands host a wounded Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria in the PSL pro­mo­tion/rel­e­ga­tion play-off on Satur­day at Makhu­long Sta­dium. Kick­off is at 3pm.

Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria went down to Mbombela last Sun­day, in a game which coach Shaun Bartlett said was shock­ing. An­other loss for AmaTuks could di­min­ish their chances of re­tain­ing their Absa Premier­ship sta­tus.

A vis­i­bly up­set Bartlett blamed his play­ers for the de­feat, say­ing they did not play like a PSL team. How­ever, he said he would be look­ing for a pos­i­tive re­sponse in the game against High­lands Park.

AmaTuks need to bounce back from last week’s de­feat if they are to stand any chance of play­ing in the elite league next sea­son.

In fact, they need to win their re­main­ing three matches to re­tain their sta­tus. Af­ter fin­ish­ing 15th on the Absa Premier­ship ta­ble, they have an­other chance of get­ting back im­me­di­ately via the play-offs. “We know what we need to do against High­lands Park and we know what to ex­pect,” said Bartlett, who would have been happy with his charges’ re­sponse in the sec­ond half af­ter go­ing down in the first.

AmaTuks hit the wood­work three times and had more than enough chances to win the game.

Bartlett will be hop­ing his charges will come back re­ju­ve­nated from the in­ter­na­tional break and rar­ing to go as they know this is their only chance of play­ing in the Absa Premier­ship next sea­son.

High­lands, which are perched at the top of the mini league with a healthy goal dif­fer­ence, know that they would stand a good chance of gain­ing pro­mo­tion if they elim­i­nated AmaTuks from the race.

They would want to con­demn their op­po­nents to the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion.

Be­fore the be­gin­ning of the play-offs, AmaTuks would have been favourites to win the mini league, but af­ter their shock­ing dis­play against Mbombela, the mo­men­tum would have shifted to High­lands Park, which beat Mbombela 3-0 in the open­ing fix­ture last week.

Al­lan Freese’s charges are now favourites to gain pro­mo­tion to the top league af­ter their ram­pant dis­play against Mbombela.

Two more wins in their re­main­ing three games should stand them in good stead on their way to the promised land, es­pe­cially as they will be play­ing at home.

But AmaTuks have proved to be good trav­ellers and should give them a run for their money.

NA­TIONAL PLAY-OFFS LOG

High­lands Park Mbombela United Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria 1 2 1

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

UN­DER PRES­SURE Shaun Bartlett needs a win against High­lands Park

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