Richards Bay must be consistent in relegation fight

When the Premiership resumes this weekend, Vusumuzi Vilakazi’s Richards Bay team will face perhaps the toughest run of games possible. Photo: BackpagePix

When the Premiership resumes this weekend, Vusumuzi Vilakazi’s Richards Bay team will face perhaps the toughest run of games possible. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 25, 2024


Comment by Smiso Msomi

Relegation-threatened Richards Bay will require Mamelodi Sundowns-like form to survive relegation from the DStv Premiership.

The Natal Rich Boyz have failed to gradually progress from what many deem a successful first season in the top flight last season after retaining their status.

The KwaZulu-Natal club were tipped as the favourites to go back down immediately last season, and were pretty close as well after a horrid run in the second round.

Last season’s woes have been carried into the current campaign, despite the club’s efforts to rotate coaches and players.

Richards Bay have lost the second-most games (12), won the equal least (three, alongside Cape Town Spurs), scored the third-least goals (15) and have conceded the second-most goals in the league this season.

The club has run through four head coaches in the last 18 months, with Pitso Dladla, Vasili Manousakis and Kaitano Tembo all occupying the role currently held by Vusumuzi Vilakazi.

The former Golden Arrows player and coach has been entrusted with the responsibility of turning around a fragile Richards Bay outfit to avoid the worst possible end to the campaign.

However, Richards Bay have seemingly blown their best chance of guaranteeing safety, having lost to Sekhukhune United, Royal AM and Chippa United in their four league games this year.

When the Premiership resumes after the international break this weekend, Vilakazi’s team will face perhaps the toughest run of games possible in the league and will be desperate for points.

Richards Bay will face KZN rivals Golden Arrows, log-leading Sundowns, an unpredictable Moroka Swallows, Kaizer Chiefs and relegation rivals Cape Town Spurs in their next five games.

Vilakazi will have to somehow cook up consistency in his team, the kind that will see them collect at least 10 out of a possible 15 points in that run.

With bottom-placed Spurs having made up ground on them since the turn of the year, the pressure is on Richards Bay, who are currently in the play-off spot, to avoid being leapfrogged.

Speaking to the media after being dumped out of the Nedbank Cup recently, Vilakazi stated that he had instructed his men to avoid thinking about Spurs, but rather to look ahead at Swallows, who sit a place above them and seven points ahead.

“I know we have 10 games, and that’s 30 points to fight for. We need to take it one game at a time, and I don’t think we are in a position to pick teams that we’re targeting for three points,” he said.

“What I always preach to the players is that when you focus, you focus on something that is in front of you, and forget what’s behind you.

“The target now is Swallows, who are above us, so I always encourage them to focus on who we are chasing, and let the ones behind us worry about us.”

Richards Bay’s next match is on Saturday away to fellow KZN outfit Golden Arrows at the Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale (3.30pm kick-off).

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DStv PremiershipSoccer