Mpumalanga Black Aces have silenced the sceptics this season, but defender Abel Mabaso has warned teammates that there is a lot more to do to ensure a happy ending to the fairy-tale season.
In seventh place after 25 matches, Aces have been great to watch in a campaign which includes victories over Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, two of the “big three” clubs in the Premiership. They could even complete a unique treble of victories against the “big three” when they face wounded Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium tomorrow (7.30pm) and increase their chances of a top half finish.
“A lot can change on the table, so we cannot say the job is done. We still have a way long way to go before the end of the season. So we will fight until then to ensure we finish in a good position,” Mabaso said ahead of the crunch clash with Amakhosi, who lost to Sundowns at the weekend to make the race for the title even more enticing.
“It’s going to be a competitive game against Chiefs. It’s a game that we are all looking forward to and we want to win it. They are coming off a defeat against Sundowns, but we also lost (to Bidvest Wits) and we want to bounce back. It’s not going to be easy for both teams.”
Mabaso, on loan from Sundowns, has commended the club’s consistency throughout the season which has earned them great admiration, even amongst those who predicted they’d be flirting with relegation.
Aces eked out victories against Pirates and Sundowns, which is great, but the defender has been impressed more by the fact they’ve picked up points against the so-called smaller clubs.
Rookie clubs sometimes surprise the big guns, but struggle to get victories against the smaller sides and as a result find themselves in the relegation mire. An example is Polokwane City, who have beaten Sundowns and Pirates this season yet they are holding on for dear life at the foot of the table following a run of bad results against lesser opposition.
However Aces have been sublime, even away from home, recording victories in Cape Town, Durban and Soweto under the tutelage of former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker. They could record another win away from home tomorrow and put Amakhosi under more pressure in the two-horse title race.
“It’s not only those results against the big teams that matter to us. I think going away to Ajax and getting a win was so important. We have just been consistent. All the games for us are big, we do not categorise. We are going to give our best against Chiefs, just as we have been doing in our previous matches,” he said. “We have been working for each other, we back each other on the pitch and the good thing is that we are taking our chances in front of goal, which is what you need to do if you want to stay in the PSL,” he added.
Mabaso gave credit to Barker for constantly motivating players and making them believe they are the best.
“I’m not surprised that we are in such a good position on the table because we have the players and the coach too. He has been great, motivating us. He makes you feel like you are best player in the country in your position. He is always positive. He has given me a chance to play and I am grateful for that.”
Aces played host to Chiefs in the opening match of the season at Mbombela Stadium, losing to a Bernard Parker goal. In that clash, Aces showed glimpses of the brilliance that we are seeing now. Were it not for the brilliance of Amakhosi captain Itumeleng Khune, Aces could have actually won the game. Khune will have to be at his best to stop the deadly Aces again tomorrow night. - The Star