KZN clubs’ royal road to suc­cess

With 32 and 25 points re­spec­tively, un­beaten Thanda and Ea­gles are perched at NFD crest, while Cape Town sides have not had it easy

CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI sports@city­

As the ti­tle race in the National First Di­vi­sion in­ten­si­fies, early pace­set­ters Thanda Royal Zulu will be hop­ing that spend­ing Christ­mas at the log sum­mit is a bless­ing and not a curse. KwaZulu-Natal sides Thanda and Royal Ea­gles are sit­ting com­fort­ably at the top of the log at the mid­way point. Thanda have taken the league by storm and will go to the break lead­ing the pack with 32 points.

Ea­gles are on 25 points. Thanda, who vis­ited Stel­len­bosch yes­ter­day, were the only side that still hadn’t lost a game be­fore this week­end’s fi­nal round of matches.

But be­ing at the sum­mit at the mid­way point does not mean any­thing – they should rather be num­ber one at the end of the sea­son.

Be­ing in the driv­ing seat, though, is bet­ter than be­ing at the foot of the ta­ble as they can de­ter­mine the pace at which they want to ap­proach the sec­ond half of the sea­son.

It is of­ten said that it is easy to reach the top, but it’s hard to stay there. Hope­fully, this will not be the case with them.

When the league re­sumes in Fe­bru­ary, many clubs would have done some work, know­ing the fi­nal 15 games will not be easy and will look at putting the brakes on Thanda’s ti­tle chal­lenge.

And Ea­gles will be hop­ing to take ad­van­tage of any slip-up in the new year. But with more than 45 points still to play for, there is a long way to go.

While the KwaZulu-Natal clubs are pulling away from the chas­ing pack, Cape Town sides have found the go­ing very tough, with four out of the five teams at the bot­tom half of the ta­ble.

Only Stel­len­bosch FC are giv­ing the lead­ing pack a run for their money, while San­tos, Mi­lano, FC Cape Town and Cape Town All Stars are strug­gling at the wrong end of the ta­ble.

With the last games of the year sched­uled for this af­ter­noon, three for­mer Premier­ship sides – Jomo Cos­mos, AmaZulu and San­tos – will be push­ing to close the gap be­tween them­selves and the lead­ers.

Cos­mos wel­come San­tos, who this week parted ways with coach Zeca Mar­ques, at Olen Park Sta­dium in Potchef­stroom.

Usuthu en­ter­tain Mi­lano at Princess Ma­gogo Sta­dium in Dur­ban.

The three sides have been strug­gling to col­lect points and have a lot of ground to cover if they are to stand a chance of get­ting pro­mo­tion at the end of the sea­son.

But they will be hop­ing to go to the Christ­mas break on a high.

AmaZulu needed a last-minute goal from their evergreen striker, Siyabonga Nomvethe, to win their tie with San­tos last week­end, while Cos­mos went down to Ea­gles.

San­tos have not had the best start, ei­ther, with just a sin­gle win in 14 matches. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Thanda Royal Zulu Royal Ea­gles Wit­bank Spurs Stel­len­bosch FC Mthatha Bucks Black Leop­ards Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria Mbombela United AmaZulu Jomo Cos­mos Real Kings Mi­lano United FC Cape Town Cape Town All Stars San­tos Ma­gesi FC 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 14 14 15 14 15 15 14 15 10 7 7 6 4 5 6 5 6 5 4 5 4 2 1 2 5 4 3 4 9 6 3 5 2 4 6 2 5 7 8 5 0 4 5 5 2 4 6 5 6 5 5 7 6 6 5 8 30 34 17 18 22 23 19 21 18 15 17 19 22 13 10 10

Coach Roger Sikhakhane’s club, the un­beaten Thanda Royal Zulu, will spend Christ­mas at the top of the first di­vi­sion log

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