High-flying Stellenbosch FC tackle NFD playoff rivals Witbank Spurs at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday (3pm kickoff).
Third-placed Stellenbosch had their six-game unbeaten run – which included three wins and three draws – ended by mid-table AmaZulu two weeks ago, but the loss didn’t cost them a placing, their chief rivals for a playoff spot dropped points as well.
Stellenbosch lost 2-1, both goals penalties. The corresponding fixture also saw the Cape side lose out to two penalties.
“Let’s just forget about the previous game and talk about our next opponents who, like us, are chasing a playoff spot,” said Stellenbosch coach Sammy Troughton.
“Thanda Royal Zulu have an eight-point lead at the summit and will be hard to catch. Black Leopards are in second and then us."
These two slots qualify teams for the three-way promotional playoffs, along with the 15th team from the PSL.
“Obviously putting away Spurs, who are one point behind us in sixth and in good form, would help our cause. We would then be left with seven games to play, four of which are at home,” Troughton said.
“But, when you look at our form at home, it has been pretty ordinary. I think we fare fourth worst amongst the other sides. On the road, it is a different story, we’re top of the charts.
“Maybe we’re too nice to visiting teams, that wasn’t the case for Cape teams in years gone by. I’ve told the players as much and now they have a chance to set the record straight, while our fans can add their voices to the occasion.
“Having had to move home games from Coetzenburg to Athlone due to upgrading of facilities hasn’t been ideal for all concerned, and I’m not making excuses.”
As for the other four Cape clubs, there are tough times ahead.
Santos languish at the foot of the table ahead of three games in eight days that will go a long way in determining whether the oldest football club in Cape Town can avoid relegation.
First port of call for the People’s Team is a trip to the Eastern Cape to play Mthatha Bucks on Saturday.
They then welcome Pretoria University to the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday, and return to the same venue on Sunday for a meeting with Durban-based Real Kings.
Santos have only managed three wins so far from 22 matches, so chances of them realising six or more points remains to be seen.
Milano United and FC Cape Town are also in the danger zone. United are third from bottom, while FC Cape Town are in 13th place on the 16-team table but only five points clear of the bottom two.
Milano parted ways with head coach Boebie Solomons last Monday following a 5-1 loss away to Real Kings, the side’s third straight defeat, with Douglas Williams and Byrone Hendricks installed as interim coaches.
Solomons has since joined up with FC Cape Town as technical director to head coach Johnny Ferreira.
Milano, who have only managed 20 points from 22 games, take on FC Cape Town on Saturday on their home field at the NNK Rugby Stadium (3pm kickoff).
Meanwhile, Cape Town All Stars drew 0-0 with Mbombela United at Athlone Stadium on Friday night.
Stars are in 12th place with eight games remaining.