PSL play-off dogfight goes right down to the wire
Ajax must beat Chiefs, and hope they win boardroom battle later on too
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.