Thanda in the driv­ing seat

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

While most of the fo­cus has been on the Absa Pre­mier­ship, Thanda Royal Zulu have gone about their busi­ness qui­etly in the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD).

Un­less dis­as­ter strikes, Thanda – who have eight games to go – are a shoo-in to get pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier­ship, as they lead sec­ond­placed Black Leop­ards by eight points.

In fact, Thanda need six more wins to be as­sured of a place in the top-flight league. It could even be less if Leop­ards drop points along the way.

In a fort­night, the two sides will meet in a game that could de­ter­mine the out­come of the ti­tle, or leave it wide open.

Leop­ards have clawed their way back into con­tention af­ter a good run in the sec­ond round, which has seen them col­lect 17 points since the be­gin­ning of the year.

Amab­hubesi have led from the be­gin­ning and it looks like they will do so un­til the end. They are yet to lose at home.

They will hope to con­tinue with their good form when they visit Jomo Cos­mos next week­end, while Leop­ards will warm up for the Thanda game with a home clash against Real Kings.

Coach Roger Sikhakhane has been fly­ing un­der the radar for a long time and is likely to lead Thanda to the promised land. The KwaZu­luNatal side needs to keep calm and take it one game at a time.

But Leop­ards, who can smell blood, will not go down with­out a fight. How­ever, even if they do not be­come cham­pi­ons, they will get an­other chance of go­ing into the play-offs and will need to fin­ish in the sec­ond or third spot to qual­ify for the play-offs with a 15th-placed side from the Pre­mier­ship.

The bat­tle for play-offs spots is hot­ting up, with Stel­len­bosch, Royal Ea­gles, Mthatha Bucks and Wit­bank Spurs all vy­ing to fin­ish in the top three.

While the fo­cus has been at the top, an­other former Pre­mier­ship side, San­tos, could fol­low on the foot­steps of Moroka Swal­lows.

The Peo­ple’s Team are lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the NFD log and, just like Swal­lows, they face rel­e­ga­tion to the ABC Mot­sepe League.

In fact, four of the bot­tom five spots are oc­cu­pied by Cape Town clubs, with Lim­popo side Ma­gesi FC be­ing the other one.

Cape Town All Stars, FC Cape Town and Mi­lano United com­plete the list.

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACKPAGEPIX

PROMISED LAND Roger Sikhakhane’s Thanda Royal Zulu need six more wins to se­cure pro­mo­tion

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