NFD set for rel­e­ga­tion dog­fight

Mashaba’s ar­rival raises Spurs hopes

Sowetan - - Dipapadi - By Sihle Nde­bele

Things may be start­ing to shape up at the Na­tional First Divi­sion (NFD) sum­mit, with lead­ers Stellenbosch con­sis­tently prov­ing their dom­i­nance. But the bat­tle to stave off rel­e­ga­tion re­mains wide open.

Wit­bank Spurs may be rooted to the foot of the ta­ble, but the ar­rival of for­mer Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba raises hopes that they can still fight their way up the stand­ings.

The Emalahleni, Mpumalanga-based side has only ac­cu­mu­lated 12 points from 17 games. Two Mother City clubs – Cape Umoya and Ubuntu Cape Town – are also in the rel­e­ga­tion mix, with Ubuntu a point ahead of Spurs in 15th po­si­tion.

Umoya, now coached by for­mer Kaizer Chiefs de­fender Do­minic Isaacs, are four points away from the rel­e­ga­tion zone. The 14th-placed Cape side has not lost since coowner Roger de Sa handed over the reigns to Isaacs last Novem­ber.

Isaacs has steered his side to two wins and two draws. At this rate, they are a safe bet to stay up.

Hav­ing done it last sea­son, where they es­caped the axe on the last day, Ubuntu will bank on their past ex­pe­ri­ence this sea­son.

An­other fac­tor work­ing in their favour is that they have a coach who has vast knowl­edge of the NFD, in Vladislav Heric.

The Serb has won pro­mo­tion to the top flight with Chippa United. Un­der his guid­ance, Ubuntu seem to have the pur­pose, but their un­do­ing has been their leaky de­fence. They have con­ceded seven in their past two matches.

One of the top per­form­ers of last term, Real Kings, are also in dan­ger of los­ing their NFD sta­tus. The KZN side is four points away from the rel­e­ga­tion zone thus far.

Tak­ing into ac­count the small mar­gins sep­a­rat­ing the bot­tom teams, the NFD rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle prom­ises to go down to the wire.

NFD fix­tures (all at 3.30pm)

To­day: Ajax v Jomo Cos­mos, Athlone Sta­dium; Stellenbosch v Richards Bay, Idas Val­ley Ground.

To­mor­row: Ubuntu v Galaxy, Boland Sta­dium; Kings v Tshakhuma, Sugar Ray Xulu Sta­dium; Mac­cabi v Spurs, Dob­sonville Sta­dium; Ea­gles v Sport­ing, Chatsworth Sta­dium.

Sun­day: Mbombela v Umoya, Kanya­mazane Sta­dium; Uthon­gathi v AmaTuks, Sugar Ray Xulu Sta­dium.

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