johannesburg: The script for the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) Promotional Play-offs seems pretty clear - home teams win their matches. At the halfway mark stage of the three-team battle for that one final spot in the country’s elite league, things are even stevens with everyone having won a match and lost the other.
Black Leopards are looking to turn matters on their head when they visit Jomo Cosmos this afternoon, the Limpopo outfit banking on their superior recent record over Jomo Sono’s men to see them through.
The team coached by Zeca Marques beat Ezenkosi 2-0 in the opening match of the play-offs in Thohoyandou to add to the 1-0 victory they registered during the NFD league season. In their trip to the Vaal University of Technology in August, Leopards got a point following a 1-1 draw.
As it is, you have to go way back to 2011 for a Cosmos victory over Leopards, reason enough to bet on a Leopards success perhaps?
Marques and his team will certainly tell you so, their defeat at Swallows seven days ago, notwithstanding, ditto for Cosmos’ 4-1 mauling of the very same Birds at the weekend.
It makes for a fascinating clash, what with Ezenkosi no doubt in high spirits following that clinical display that helped them go top of the table thanks to a superior goal difference.
Leopards, though, will hope things continue as they have since the start of the play-offs, with no team winning successive matches. The reason for this failure, as the coaches admitted afterwards, has been complacency - the teams somewhat resting on their laurels following victories.
Sono is way too experienced a coach to allow his team to fall into that trap though and would have drilled into his boys the importance of staying grounded and putting in the hard work just as they did against Swallows.
He will once again look to his leading scorer Charlton Mashumba to have a go at the Leopards defence with veteran Brice Aka sure to make a nuisance of himself throughout the match.
Having no doubt watched Leopards’ defeat at Swallows, Sono will have a plan to keep the visitors’ defence under pressure and hope they crumble like they did in Dobsonville. Though they were beaten, Leopards would have left Dobsonville encouraged by their positive play and will be keen to build on that.
They will also be relieved at having Roggert Nyundu back from suspension after the big striker sat out the Swallows match. Most pleased at his return will be scoring midfielder Sip-helele Ntshan-gase, whose industrious efforts came to naught last Wednesday as he had no one to really finish the chances off.
It will, however, take some doing to succeed where only Thanda Royal Zulu did by beating Cosmos in their own backyard. In any case, results from the first half of the play-offs seem to point to a Cosmos victory.