JOHANNESBURG – The thought of Black Leopards failing to gain promotion yet again from the play-offs is too much for coach Joel Masutha to think about, let alone entertain.
“I don’t even want to think about that because it would be a disaster. I don’t want to think about a disaster. Let’s not talk about that. We will do it. We will make it,” Masutha said.
Lidoda Duvha have loosened the grip they had on the three-team mini league that also features Jomo Cosmos and Platinum Stars with a place in the Premier Division up for grabs. Leopards started on a positive note with a win over Stars in Thohoyandou.
But the 2-2 draws with Cosmos in Vosloorus and Stars in Moruleng have reminded Leopards of their nightmarish run in the play-offs. The Limpopo side failed to gain promotion from the play-offs in their last three participations.
This is the fourth time in five years they are looking to return to top-flight football via the play-offs. A win over Cosmos tomorrow at Thohoyandou Stadium will see them reach that objective.
“It’s a cup final. Jomo is a very, very tough team to beat,” Masutha said. “They have quality. But to be honest, this is our time. There is no two ways about it. We just have to wrap it up, and we have to do so in this match.
Jomo knows that should he lose, their chances of going to the PSL are over. He will do everything to win the match or try to get a draw, hoping that he will get something when he plays Platinum Stars at home.”
A point for Cosmos wouldn’t be such a bad result, provided that they beat Stars by 2-0 or more in their slaughterhouse, Vosloorus Stadium on Saturday.
Leopards will be banking on their talisman Mwape Musonda. The Zambian forward missed the first match against Stars due to an injury.
He has scored four goals upon his return, a brace against Cosmos and a brace against Stars in Moruleng with one of those goals a brilliant bicycle kick.
Musonda’s scoring form in the National First Division fired Leopards to second place and will see him walk away with the Golden Boot at the PSL awards. He will share that award with Highland Park’s Peter Shalulile, as the pair both finished on 15 goals.
“That guy is something else,” Masutha said. “I am not saying this because I am excited that he scores. But the hard work that he puts in is inspirational. Even when he is injured, you see him training, running, kicking the ball and forcing himself to play. He plays even when he isn’t 100% fit but he would give us 120% dedication and effort. It’s not a coincidence that he is scoring these goals. It’s through hard work.”
Musonda’s scoring boots are just one part of the arsenal Leopards will come with to outsmart a Cosmos team that’s never lost a play-offs campaign before. Lidoda Duvha boast a coach who has gained promotion twice with Leopards, first as a player and then as an assistant coach to Sunday Chidzambwa.
If all of that doesn’t work, they can bank on their vocal fans who have been starved of top flight football for five years.
“They are our 12th player,” Masutha said. “They deserve to be in the PSL more than us.
What they are doing for us is unbelievable. We have to reward them with a status in the PSL.”