Rovers must tear Bay apart – or else
BLACKBURN Rovers will be looking to bag all three points against Bay United at the Buffalo City Stadium on Sunday so as to confirm their place in the Premier Soccer League promotion playoffs.
While newly-crowned champions the University of Pretoria have already confirmed their place in the PSL, after racking up an unassailable six-point lead at the top of the standings, there are still a number of outstanding issues to be decided during the final round of matches.
With four teams fighting for the two playoff places up for grabs and another three involved in a fierce relegation dogfight, Sunday promises to be a day to remember for all National First Division (NFD) followers.
The second and third-placed NFD sides will do battle with the 15th-placed team from the PSL for the right to play in the top-flight next season while the bottom two will be relegated to the Vodacom Leagues.
East London-based Blackburn go into the final round of fixtures one point ahead of Chippa United, who beat Amarova 2-0 in Cape Town on Sunday.
With 49 points, a win for Blackburn will guarantee them second spot on the table irrespective of what happens to closest promotion rivals Chippa and Thanda Royal Zulu.
While the Eddie Dyaloyicoached outfit will no doubt be going all out to end the season with a win, a draw against the 14th-placed visitors – providing Thanda do not beat Tuks by more than three goals – could see them into the three-team playoffs.
If Thanda lose to Tuks, Blackburn will still finish in the top three irrespective of their result against Bay.
Blackburn face a potential banana skin against Umlilo, who currently lie just two points outside of the relegation quagmire and who will be desperate for all three points to guarantee survival.
Despite the gravity of the task ahead, team principal Dumisani Mcedani was confident of a positive result: “We know it’s going to be tough against a team fighting relegation but I’m confident we will get all three points.
“A win will also be a big boost for the team and fans as we look forward to the playoffs.
“The boys were quite down over the weekend, especially after hearing that Tuks lost, but they have picked themselves up and are ready to bounce back against Bay.”
Chippa, play fifth-placed FC AK who still have a mathematical chance of sneaking into third, are just one point ahead of Thanda.
To progress to the playoffs, FC AK will have to beat Chippa by at least seven goals in Eldorado Park and also hope Thanda don’t beat Tuks.
Thanda have slipped into fourth and in real danger of missing out a place in the three-team playoffs after featuring in the top three for almost the entire season.
Neil Tovey’s side will be hoping that Tuks are in a celebratory mood and take their foot off the pedal when the two sides clash at the Absa Tuks Stadium as only a win will give them a chance of finishing in the top three.
Where clubs have equal points and goal difference, the number of goals scored will be used to determine their log position.
Things are also tight at the bottom of the standings with Dynamos, Bay and Mpumalanga Black Aces fighting to avoid joining Atlie FC in the Vodacom Leagues next season.
Professor Ngubane’s gamble to ditch Chippa for the struggling Tembisa-based side has backfired badly with already relegated Atlie currently lying three points behind Aces.
Currently two points behind Bay, Aces will need to win away at FC Cape Town to have any chance of avoiding being relegated for a second successive season.
With an identical goal difference (-9) with Bay, a win for Aces will see them avoid the drop provided Umlilo don’t beat Rovers.
Dynamos – who have the identical number of points as Bay, but with a better goal difference (-7) – also face a tricky road trip to Carara Kicks.