PSL play-off dog­fight goes right down to the wire

Ajax must beat Chiefs, and hope they win board­room bat­tle later on too

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MAZOLA MOLEFE

WHILE Mamelodi Sun­downs will be given a guard of hon­our by Bloem­fontein Celtic and the con­fetti sprin­kled all over the Free State cap­i­tal this af­ter­noon to cel­e­brate the cham­pi­ons lift­ing their eighth Pre­mier League ti­tle, else­where in the coun­try four teams will be sweat­ing and fight­ing for sur­vival.

As the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle reaches a cli­max, Su­per­Sport United, two of Lim­popo’s finest in Baroka FC and Polok­wane City as well as Ajax Cape Town go into the fi­nal day of the 2017-18 sea­son still need­ing to se­cure their sta­tus as topflight foot­ball clubs.

Here’s what you can ex­pect in those three fix­tures, which are ex­pected to be nail-biters and have fans on the edge of their seats right up to the fi­nal whis­tle.

Su­per­Sport v Baroka FC

Who would have imag­ined that these two clubs would be fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing down and hav­ing to try hold on to their Pre­mier League sta­tus on the fi­nal day of the sea­son? Both United and Baroka were early pace set­ters this sea­son – the Tsh­wane based out­fit claim­ing the first sil­ver­ware on of­fer in the MTN8 and reach­ing the fi­nal of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup a month later, while their Lim­popo coun­ter­parts were log lead­ers af­ter seven league matches.

An in­cred­i­ble ca­pit­u­la­tion, cou­pled with changes in the coach­ing depart­ment ( Eric Tin­kler was re­placed by Kai­tano Tembo at Su­per­Sport and McDon­ald Makhubedu took over from Kgoloko Thobe­jane be­fore he, too, moved aside for Doc­tor Khumalo) has led to this fi­nal day drama at Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium.

Baroka only need a point to avoid the play-offs, but Su­per­Sport may have to fight for all three points to pre­vent need­ing a favour from Chiefs, who face Ajax in Cape Town.

Polok­wane City v Chippa United

This is yet another sad fall from grace – for both teams, ac­tu­ally. But it is City who are pay­ing the price for a lack­lus­tre cam­paign af­ter they failed to build on last sea­son’s top eight fin­ish and a sat­is­fac­tory start un­der be­lea­guered coach Bernard Molekwa.

Chippa will ar­rive at the Old Pe­ter Mok­aba Sta­dium far from pre­pared to roll over as a spot in the top eight is still up for grabs.

They need a win to con­sol­i­date their place in the MTN8 tour­na­ment next sea­son, but face a City out­fit quite des­per­ate for max­i­mum points to avoid be­ing sucked into the play-offs and pos­si­bly be­ing rel­e­gated. Molekwa is also on bor­rowed time as coach at City with re­ports that re­place­ments have al­ready been lined up by chair­man Johnny Mo­gal­adi should the club re­tain their sta­tus in the elite di­vi­sion.

Ajax CT v Chiefs

Per­haps this is the pick of the lot – the Ur­ban War­riors, still fight­ing in the board­room over the el­i­gi­bil­ity of striker Tendai Ndoro, have to beat a Chiefs team dy­ing to fin­ish third on the ta­ble as some sort of con­so­la­tion for another woe­ful cam­paign. Third place would mean the Glam­our Boys take part in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup next sea­son.

Ajax coach Muhsin Er­tu­gral has talked up their chances and be­lieves they have the an­ti­dote to tame Amakhosi. And they can be hope­ful, es­pe­cially given the other three teams in the same boat also have must­win games this af­ter­noon.

Beat Chiefs and Ajax are most likely home and dry even though them los­ing the Ndoro case opens the door for the harsh­est of pun­ish­ments, which could mean be­ing docked points and ul­ti­mately rel­e­gated.

Er­tu­gral will want them to at least cover them­selves by win­ning at the Cape Town Sta­dium.


STAND-IN: Kai­tano Tembo took over as coach of Su­per­Sport United ear­lier this sea­son, af­ter Eric Tin­kler stood down.

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