Fireworks on the cards in PSL battle for survival
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
UNDER PRESSURE Shaun Bartlett needs a win against Highlands Park