Tovey now focused on promotion

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Neil_Tovey Steve Haag Gallo Images Thanda Royal Zulu coach Neil Tovey.

Neil Tovey has had to split his focus this week.

Not only did the former Bafana Bafana captain find himself on a five-man shortlist to be the new coach of the SA national football squad, but he also had to prepare his current team – First Division side Thanda Royal Zulu – for an important promotion play-off match against Chippa United at Athlone Stadium on Saturday (kick off 3pm).

Tovey was on Thursday interviewed for the Bafana coaching position and on Saturday he has switch his attention as he attempts to get the Richards Bay-based club to the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Thanda lost their opening play-off fixture 1-0 to Santos in Richards Bay, but Tovey is still confident all is not lost.

“I was pleased with the performance of my team,” Tovey said after the defeat to Santos. “We dominated possession and, if we had taken our chances, things could have been different.

“It was difficult to tell who was the PSL team and who was the First Division side. We may have lost, but we are not out of it.”

For Tovey to ensure that his Thanda side remains in it, they have to beat Chippa on Saturday.

The play-offs feature the teams that finished second and third in the First Division – Thanda and Chippa – and the side that ended 15th (second last) in the PSL: Santos. They play each other home and away on a round robin basis and the team with the most points is guaranteed a place in next season’s PSL campaign.

Chippa have blazed a trail in local football since their establishment in 2010. Two years ago, they were a Second Division club; now they have an opportunity for promotion to the top-flight.

The Philippi-based club’s coach Roger Sikhakhane is confident they have what it takes. They are looking forward to the match against Thanda, and they want to make an immediate impact on the play-offs.

The fixtures resume this weekend after a two-week postponement because of a complaint that Chippa had fielded an improperly registered player. The arbitration hearing ruled in favour of Chippa and the Cape side is determined that the allegation won’t distract them from their main objective – to get to the PSL.

“There were obviously psychological effects for us to deal with, but the break also allowed us to prepare well,” said Sikhakhane. – Cape Argus


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