The five-match domestic programme features the buoyant men of AmaZulu and Maritzburg United doing all they can to increase pressure on their rivals in the relegation dogfight and top-eight challenge respectively when they enjoy home advantage simultaneously on Saturday (3pm).
Both teams are pleased to have virtually all their regular starters available for duty on a bill where the last-placed Durbanites look to move within two points of two foes by overcoming third-bottom Free State Stars at Moses Mabhida Stadium, while Maritzburg attempt to jump three points clear of SuperSport in a mid-table duel at Harry Gwala Stadium.
Two matches will follow in Rustenburg and Polokwane on Saturday night and the last one is in Bloemfontein on Sunday, with all three being of interest to the two KwaZulu-Natal clubs in one way or another.
Quietly confident AmaZulu coach, Steve Barker, and his players, will hope the club’s mission to bring in extra supporters through newly launched incentives will bear fruit this weekend because this will make them feel more important and drive them on in their heavy battle to avoid the axe from the top-flight.
The supporters will likely expect Bongani Ndulula to come in for suspended striker Bongi Ntuli and they, no doubt, would love to see defender Mbulelo ‘OJ’ Mabizela race forward again to grab another important goal during this short spell with the Spar-backed Usuthu.
They have not experienced much joy at Moses Mabhida Stadium in recent years, but will see a good omen in Usuthu’s rare win over Wits at the former World Cup venue last month, which was part of a four-match unbeaten run that Barker’s side will be protecting on Saturday.
Moreover, the Durbanites have not lost to Stars in their last three meetings, although the Free Staters have the dominant record in terms of encounters over the past five years – and their current top scorer, Moeketsi Sekola, has double the tally of AmaZulu’s leading goal-getter, Goodman Dlamini.
Maritzburg also have an inferior record against their opponents overall, but coach Steve Komphela’s men will not lack confidence for Saturday’s visit by SuperSport after they beat the Pretoria side by big margins in their previous two encounters, in addition to getting past Chiefs at home and Platinum Stars away in their last two league assignments last month.
In the two games taking place on Saturday night, Platinum Stars will host Ajax Cape Town at Royal Bafokeng Stadium with Cavin Johnson back at the club after an unsuccessful coaching spell with SuperSport, while Polokwane City lock horns with Wits at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Sunday’s lone game sees Bloem Celtic entertain Pretoria University in a battle of two rejuvenated teams at Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium.
Original source: PSL relegation fight hots up