PSL relegation battle set to provide most fascinating finale


CAPE TOWN, February 13 (ANA) – It’s shaping up to be a real dog fight down at the bottom of the Absa Premiership table as South Africa’s top-flight football league heads into the final stretch.

With 20 games played, Platinum Stars are currently marooned to the foot of the table with a meagre 16 points.

Roughly speaking, 29 or 30 points is usually enough to escape both automatic relegation and the play-offs. That’s not good news for the Rustenburg-based Stars as it means they would likely need to win at least three if not four of their last 10 matches, a tall order for a team which has won only three of 20 so far.

But what makes Dikwena’s position even more interesting, is the vested interest of head coach Roger De Sa, who along with a consortium of businessmen, has bought over the club and is set to relocate it to Cape Town next season.

So instead of parting ways should Stars get the axe, as coaches often do, De Sa could find himself coaching in the National First Division (NFD) next season. The club’s monetary value would also take a massive dive, and as such, the next few months, likely to be rather sleepless, could be the most trying of the former national team goalkeeper’s long and largely successful career as a coach.

And if De Sa can somehow pull Platinum Stars out the fire, it could be at the expense of two of his former employers, Ajax Cape Town (21 points, having played a game more) and Bidvest Wits (22 points), lying second and third last respectively.

Ajax have been gradually slipping down the table in recent seasons, but it would still come as a shock, and be a huge setback for the league’s most successful developer of youth talent should they go down. And judging my their very substantial and uncharacteristic squad overhaul in the January transfer window, the Urban Warriors are prepared to do whatever it takes to provide coach Muhsin Ertugral with the tools to avoid the drop.

Wits have a pretty successful youth academy going themselves, but it’s the performance of their first team that’s put them on the map after the Clever Boys won the title last season, having finished second and third the two previous seasons.

Add in the 2016 MTN8 trophy, and this season’s Telkom Knockout-winning campaign, and it’s quite mind-boggling that Gavin Hunt’s team find themselves in the position they are. One would think they’ll climb to safety, although results are still not forthcoming consistently enough and there is also participation in the CAF Champions League to serve as a potential distraction and certainly an additional taxation.

What will give Ajax and Wits some hope however is that there are a bunch of clubs very much within reach. In 13th spot, Polokwane City share the same number of points as the Clever Boys, 22, while Golden Arrows are on 23 points.

Even the likes of an off-form SuperSport United (24 points) and Bloemfontein Celtic (25 points) are still in danger, while Baroka FC, AmaZulu and Chippa United, right up in seventh spot, are all only five points above Ajax and not out the woods yet.

– African News Agency (ANA)