Lidoda Duvha miss the mark
Leopards struggle in battle for PSL spot against Stellenbosch
Black Leopards wasted a great chance to increase their chances of winning the National First Division (NFD) relegation/ promotion playoffs yesterday. They only managed a goalless draw against Stellenbosch FC in their opening match at Thohoyandou Stadium yesterday. A win would have taken Lidoda Duvha to the top of the group and given them an advantage over Stellenbosch and Baroka FC, who played to a draw on Wednesday.
Yesterday’s result in Limpopo means the three teams are tied on a single point.
Although the vocal home crowd that packed the venue intimidated the opposition, the Leopards players seemed to have left their scoring boots at home as they wasted an avalanche of clear-cut scoring chances, especially in the first half. Striker Mwape Musonda was the main culprit.
The Venda side cruised in the hot weather, while the Western Cape side struggled to cope with the conditions, which forced them to defend deep in their own half and resort to counter-attacking football.
Stellenbosch finished the game with 10 men after defender Diego Brown was shown a red card two minutes from full time.
Having dropped two valuable points at home when they drew 2-2 with Baroka in their opening match, Stellenbosch were also desperate for a win.
The three clubs are fighting for the remaining vacant spot in the PSL and aim to join NFD champions Thanda Royal Zulu, who won automatic promotion.
Leopards finished the NFD season in second spot – 12 points behind Thanda – while Stellenbosch finished third to book the last play-off spot together with Baroka, who finished 15th in the Absa Premiership.
This is the third time Leopards are involved in playoffs. They lost their first play-off battle at the end of the 2007/08 season, when they were relegated from the PSL after they lost to Bay United at the semifinal stage before the current mini league format was introduced in 2012.
Lidoda Duvha had another chance to gain promotion via the stressful elimination contest format in 2015, but were unlucky to lose on goal difference to Jomo Cosmos.
Leopards will now face Baroka in their next fixture at Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday evening. Kickoff is at 7.30pm.
Baroka will also need to pull up their socks if they are to retain their top-flight status.
Only three PSL teams since the inception of the playoffs in the 2004/05 season have managed to win the round robin competition – AmaZulu, Mpumalanga Black Aces and Polokwane City.
STALEMATE Phathutshedzo Nange of Black Leopards is challenged by Stellenbosch FC’s Sibusiso Hadebe (right) during yesterday’s promotion playoffs at Thohoyandou Stadium