Leop­ards is aim­ing to win the play off mini league

African Times - - Front Page - MASHUDU SADIKE

Black Leop­ards look set to be­come Limpopo’s third Absa Pre­mier League side if they col­lect enough points in the up­com­ing pro­mo­tion play-offs.

The side from Tho­hoyan­dou looked like a team ready for the big time in their last NFD game where they beat Jomo Cos­mos 3-0 be­fore their vo­cif­er­ous fans in the far north.

They now await the out­come of this week­end’s PSL fi­nal fix­tures to de­ter­mine who joins Leop­ards and Cos­mos in the play offs.

Limpopo sides Baroka and Polok­wane City are in dan­ger of drop­ping into the play-off spot but Leop­ards coach Joel Ma­sutha hopes this doesn’t be­come the case.

Leopard’s is the only Limpopo side play­ing in the tour­na­ment and could be the third Limpopo ad­di­tion into the PSL if they win the Play-offs af­ter Polok­wane City and Baroka FC.

“I’d rather not face our fel­low Limpopo teams in the play-offs. It would be nice to be the third edi­tion into the PSL rep­re­sent­ing Limpopo.”

Li­doda Du­vha pro­duced a stun­ning sec­ond half dis­play of at­tack­ing foot­ball to ham­mer Cos­mos 3-0 and sur­pass them to ce­ment sec­ond po­si­tion. Leop­ards are vy­ing for the mini-league for the fifth con­sec­u­tive time af­ter hav­ing failed four times to gain pro­mo­tion through the play-offs.

“Th­ese boys have given me a lot so I’m ex­pect­ing the same fight­ing spirit that they have given dur­ing the league matches. Th­ese are the same crop of play­ers that played last year,” the men­tor said.

“We are go­ing into the PSL this time around. The boys have the most valu­able play-off ex­pe­ri­ence than the other teams and can def­i­nitely han­dle the pres­sure.”

Ma­sutha said that al­though they had beaten Cos­mos in the week­end. They had to be weary of them as they would come back stronger.

“We have beaten them but that does not mean that it’s au­to­matic to beat them again. They will come back bet­ter pre­pared but I be­lieve in my boys. It’s a case of 11 against 11 re­ally.” The men­tor fur­ther em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of ex­pe­ri­ence in this sea­son in­stal­ment of the play-off berth say­ing that he had been part of the tour­na­ment eight times.

“I have been in­volved with the play-offs when it was still four teams participating. I was the goal­keeper for Leop­ards in 1995 when we qual­i­fied and played against San­tos, Tem­bisa Clas­sic and African Wan­der­ers. I have been in the com­pe­ti­tion three times as a player and five times as an as­sis­tant coach. That should count for some­thing” he said con­fi­dently.

Ma­sutha also said that he will main­tain the same team that beat Cos­mos but will let go of the un­der 23 play­ers who are called to coun­try duty.

“We don’t have a big squad. We make lit­tle changes here and there to adapt for the tour­na­ment. Th­ese four games can de­ter­mine th­ese boys’ lives and they know that. They know that they could have done bet­ter in the first round of the cam­paign. We only ac­cu­mu­lated 18 points in the first round and 32 in the sec­ond but that’s what made all the dif­fer­ence.” Ma­sutha also pleaded with the Limpopo foot­ball lovers to go out and sup­port the only team that is rep­re­sent­ing the prov­ince.“We ask all the peo­ple of Limpopo to come out and sup­port us,” he said. - Muku­rukuru Me­dia.

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