Brace for relegation dogfight


With four matches to go before the curtain goes down on the season, expect anything – altercations, accusations, vicious attacks, lunging tackles, ultra defensive tactics, tough tussles and a cocktail of unorthodox football as teams jostle for points.

It’s at the bottom of the table where things are going to be intriguing with as many as five teams in danger of relegation. There was no shortage of drama on Friday night when bottom-based Maritzburg United suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of SuperSport United.

Maritzburg have cried foul over the first goal accusing SuperSport of unsporting behaviour after a Maritzburg player was down before Bradley Grobler scored.

Such is the drama associated with fighting relegation. There will be no room for the faint-hearted when other relegation candidates Jomo Cosmos and University of Pretoria clash at the Olen Park in Potchefstroom in what is expected to be a tough encounter.

Cosmos are second from bottom with 21 points while Tuks are just one place above them with the same points. Tuks are above Cosmos because of a superior goal difference. Goals are what has separated the two throughout the season.

Cosmos’ strike force has been blunt, managing a measly 16 goals. Tuks have scored five more goals than Cosmos. For Tuks coach Shaun Bartlett, he and his men will be high on confidence having beaten Cosmos 1-0 in the first leg. That Tuks have been scoring goals should be a source of confidence for the men from the capital city.

However, Cosmos are set to give Tuks a tough time since Jomo Sono has promised to make life difficult for any team visiting them.

“Now we play as equals,” said Bartlett.

“We have done well against them. We have a chance. We are not panicking. When you look at other teams competing with us, with due respect, we are far better than them,” he added.

“It gives us confidence. I am targeting teams coming to Potchefstroom. It’s three of them,” said Sono.

Bartlett’s side have done well against teams in the relegation zone. Tuks have already gained three points from Maritzburg United and one point from Bloemfontein Celtic, who are fifth from bottom with 29 points.

The former Bafana Bafana striker has stressed the importance of beating their competitors.

“That for us is a mini league. We have got points off Maritzburg, Celtic, next game is Cosmos. I think we still have to play Polokwane City. The mini league is very important. The more points we get from those teams the better chance we have of survival.

“I can’t control what happens to Maritzburg or Cosmos. It’s a massive one. It’s direct competition. We need to get points out of this game,” said Bartlett.

“We have to concentrate on what we do best. We have to convert the chances that we create. We need to be more clinical when we get to the final third. We must take responsibility.

“You can’t pass the ball when you are in the box facing the goals. Take a shot and see what happens. For me it’s those small things we have to work on but then there’s not much time. It’s all about recovery now.”

Neither side can afford to drop points at this stage of the season as the consequences will be fatal. With Maritzburg looking set to get the automatic chop, one between Cosmos and Tuks are likely to be in the play-offs. So there’s enormous pressure on them to do well.

Bartlett says he and his side are under no pressure.

“For me it’s about what we can control.”

Kick-off is at 3pm.

Original source: Brace for relegation dogfight