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DESPITE the threat of possible legal action, the Premier Soccer League’s promotion-relegation playoffs are going ahead as planned.
According to various reports yesterday, National First Division teams Blackburn Rovers and Dynamos were considering a challenge to the validity of player registrations in court.
Rovers just missed out on the playoffs after losing to Bay United on the final day of the season, while Dynamos were relegated to the Vodacom League on the same day.
However, the PSL confirmed yesterday that the opening match of the playoffs between Santos and Thanda Royal Zulu at the Richards Bay Sports Complex will go ahead today (kickoff 2pm). “(By 5pm yesterday) we haven’t received any correspondence from the clubs named in the reports,” Altaaf Kazi, the PSL’s communications manager, said last night. “As far as we are concerned, the playoffs will go ahead as scheduled.”
Meanwhile, striker Eleazar Rodgers travelled with his Santos teammates to KwaZulu-Natal for the Thanda encounter yesterday.
He was due to report for national duty with Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg on Monday before leaving for Rustenburg to prepare for the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia on June 3, but Santos sent a letter to national coach Pitso Mosimane requesting permission for Rodgers to play.
The lanky striker, who scored 12 league goals for the People’s Team this season, is a massive part of their strategy going into the lottery of the three-team playoffs.
“Eleazar is an important player for us and we need him,” chief operations officer and Santos legend Edries Burton told the Cape Times last night. “He travelled with us in the morning and will play against Thanda on Wednesday afternoon.”
Santos are the team under enormous pressure heading into the playoffs, as their form has been nothing short of diabolical at times this season.
New coach Mart Nooij seems to have brought new vigour into the team, but they are going need an extra spark against two National First Division clubs who are desperate to get into the top flight of South African football.
“The guys are looking focused ahead of tomorrow’s match, and it looks like they put the disappointment of finishing 15th in the league behind them,” former Santos defender Burton said.
“The coach has got them nicely motivated for the game, but they also understand that every game from now on is important.”
Today: Thanda Royal Zulu v Santos
Sunday: Chippa United v Thanda Royal Zulu.
May 30: Santos v Chippa United.
June 17: Santos v Thanda Royal Zulu.
June 20: Thanda Royal Zulu v Chippa United.
June 23: Chippa United v Santos.