BLACK LEOPARDS will need to do something they have never done before in their previous encounters with Stellenbosch FC when the two sides lock horns in tonight’s PSL promotion play-off tie at Athlone Stadium (Kick-off 7.30pm).
The Limpopo side must beat the Capetonians to stay in contention for a spot in the Absa Premiership.
Yet, having failed to do so in their three encounters with their fellow National First Division (NFD) side, indications are that Baroka FC will retain their elite league spot.
Bakgaga are top of the three team mini-league playoffs on an unassailable seven points with a match (against Leopards) to go.
Lidoda Duvha thus need to beat both Stellenbosch (already out of contention) and Baroka if they are to be promoted.
But they go to Athlone tonight on the back of a goalless draw in the playoffs, their best result against Sammy Troughton’s side who beat them twice (3-2 and 2-1) in the NFD.
An evident weakness for Lidoda Duvha has been their inability to score goals, though they tend to be very smooth moving from defence right into attack.
With his superb passing skills, Siphelele Ntshangase is the creative genius who makes the Thohoyandou-based side tick. But his attacking partners have generally disappointed him, failing to make good use of the opportunities he creates for them.
Against a Stellenbosch side that has nothing but pride to play for, Leopards should fancy their chances.
But their keeping the playoffs alive will require their forwards to fire much better than they’ve been doing so far.
Besides, Stellies won’t simply roll over for the visitors even though they are out of the running.
They want to finish off on a good note.
Despite their disappointing play-off campaign, Stellenbosch coach Sammy Troughton was determined that his men would put up a fight today; they weren’t about to hand Leopards an easy win.
“This competition deserves that we do a professional job,” said Troughton. “We have to go out there and give our best. We’ll pick a decent team, we’ll give Leopards a run, even though there is nothing at stake for us. We have to try to, at least, win one of our games in the competition.”
He added: “We are already out of the race and now it’s a matter of playing for pride. The boys are fired up. They know that the game will be televised and that it’s also a perfect opportunity for them to be seen by other coaches (in the PSL). We’ve played against this side before. We beat them twice but we are expecting them to pull out the stops to win. It’s going to be a difficult match.