Vasco look to keep closing the gap on log leaders
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.