WITH THE coronation of the Absa Premiership kings done and dusted, the focus now shifts to the bottom of the table where it is still a toss-up as to who will kiss participation in the country’s elite league goodbye.
Chippa United gave themselves some hope of avoiding the chop with a surprise 3-0 defeat of a SuperSport United outfit they will be hosting again in the Nedbank Cup semi-final this weekend.
The Chilli Boys’ victory - their first in 13 league games - sees them in the safety of 13th position with a match to go. But they are on 27 points, the same as Free State Stars directly below them and just one and two better than both Highlands Park and Baroka FC who are in the play-off and relegation positions.
The two sides played a tepid goalless draw that made a mockery of their fight for survival on Wednesday and anything like the lacklustre showing in their final matches will see them making an immediate return to the National First Division (NFD).
These four teams, and to some extent Bloemfontein Celtic in 12th place, have a week to work on ways to ensure success in the season’s final matches. But who of them will make it?
Here we look at the permutations.
Goal Difference: -12
Remaining match: v Maritzburg United (away)
Celtic cannot be relegated automatically, but defeat at the Team of Choice - which is likely to be the outcome of their final match, and success for Baroka and Highlands Park as well as a draw between Chippa and Free State Stars will send them into the play-offs. It is a tricky situation Siwelele find themselves in, especially with Maritzburg wanting to secure a top eight finish.
Goal Difference: -5
Remaining match: v Free State Stars (away)
The Chilli Boys are in action in the Cup this weekend and another victory over SuperSport will see them go to Goble Park on a high. But Matsatsantsa won’t allow themselves to be beaten twice in a row by Chippa. And so it will be on the back of a loss that they travel to Goble Park - a hard place for visiting teams. Besides, Chippa just don’t know how to win on the road. They have only one victory - over Baroka - away from home this season. They won’t be making it two on final match-day.
Free State Stars
Goal difference: -11
Remaining match: v Highlands Park (home)
Ea Lla Koto have had a nightmarish season that began with their future uncertain as they looked to be bought out by a group representing Moroka Swallows. Bereft of some of their key players who moved on to other clubs, they have had it hard and their cause was not helped by a change of coaches mid-season. No wonder they are here, desperate to beat Chippa in order to survive. They hammered the Chilli Boys 3-0 when they hosted them last season and though they lost 2-1 in the first round in PE, they will be too strong this time around.
Goal difference: -18
Remaining match: v Mamelodi Sundowns (home)
The Lions of the North will be hoping to find a Sundowns side deflated by their being disposed as league champions. But with a Champions League spot at stake, Sundowns will want to win and win well to finish the domestic season on a high. It won’t be a hammering similar to the 5-0 they received in the first round, but Highlands Park are in for a beating.
Goal difference: -18
Remaining match: v Ajax Cape Town (away)
Bakgaga have to beat Ajax at all cost if they are to stand a chance of surviving. Even then, their remaining in the league will be dependent on what transpires above them. The Urban Warriors are in for a top eight finish and they will not be in charitable mood. But Bakgaga did beat Cape Town City away and they will look at that for confidence. This one will be a draw.
Highlands Park will be automatically relegated and Baroka will go into the play-offs.