Vasco look to keep clos­ing the gap on log lead­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

VASCO DA GAMA head into to­day’s National First Divi­sion en­counter away to African War­riors just four points off the pace be­ing set by Pre­to­ria Univer­sity.

Fourth-placed Vasco, who have won seven, lost four and drawn two of their 13 games to date for a haul of 23 points, are in a good space to keep the pres­sure on the front three, who are level on 27 points apiece, with Tuks in front on goal dif­fer­ence.

Thanda Zulu Royal, like lead­ers Tuks, are the only other un­beaten team in the league, while third-placed Black­burn Rovers have the most wins so far (nine).

The top team at the end of the 30-match sched­ule will win au­to­matic pro­mo­tion to the PSL next sea­son, while the sec­ond, third and fourth-placed sides will join the 15th team from the PSL in a se­ries of play-off matches to de­ter­mine the sec­ond team pro­moted to the top flight.

From a Cape per­spec­tive, things look promis­ing near­ing the half­way stage, with FC Cape Town sit­ting pretty in fifth place ( 20 points) and league rook­ies Chippa United sev­enth (19).

Vasco, who were rel­e­gated from the PSL last sea­son, have had an up-and-down cam­paign so far.

Four wins from their first six games have been off­set by need­less losses to lesser teams, but a 1- 0 away win over Wit­bank Black Aces in their last game may well sig­nal a more con­sis­tent run in the league.

But they will be hard­pressed to come away from the Charles Mopeli Sta­dium in Qwaqwa with all three points as op­po­nents War­riors are a much-im­proved team of late, and boast two morale-boost­ing wins on the trot, fol­low­ing up a 1- 0 win over former league lead­ers Rovers with a re­sound­ing 4-0 vic­tory over FC AK.

“Go­ing to the Free State is al­ways a tough as­sign­ment,” said Vasco coach Tony de No­brega. “Con­di­tions are nor­mally hot and the pitches bumpy and not con­ducive to free-flow­ing foot­ball.

“War­riors are a good team and on a two-match win­ning streak, so it’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge to come away with some­thing. We’ve also got a few in­juries to key play­ers and a sus­pen­sion to deal with, and the stop-start na­ture of the league doesn’t help any­one.”

FC Cape Town face a tough away as­sign­ment to­mor­row in the form of un­beaten Roy­als.

But coach Josef Vuku­sic’s charges showed they can mix it with the best when they fought back from a two-goal deficit to force a 2-2 draw at home to Tuks.

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