no walk in the park

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Thanda Royal Zulu and Black Leopards should brace themselves for sturdy resistance from Kaizer Chiefs and Jomo Cosmos who want nothing less than victories as they wrap up their Absa Premiership season on "The Big Sunday."

Amakhosi and Ezenkosi are determined to succeed despite the fact that they have nothing to lose or gain from these encounters.

The revitalised Chiefs, who visit Leopards at Thohoyandou Stadium, can afford to lose this encounter and still finish in the top eight bracket. Muhsin Ertugral's side cemented a top-eight finish with a 2-0 pasting of Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.

Cosmos, on the other hand, will be playing for pride against Royal at Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale, after Lidoda Duvha confirmed their relegation with a 2-0 defeat also on Wednesday.

The future of Royal and Leopards in the top flight is hanging by a thread because one of them will finish 15th on the log after Sunday's matches. This will mean that either of them will have to negotiate their way back to the Premiership through the competitive National First Division playoffs in the close season.

Leopards, who are 15th on the table, are likely candidates to play in the four-team promotion-relegation event. David Thidiela's club will only survive if they can beat Chiefs and hope Royal lose against Cosmos.

Chiefs are in devastating form lately and this does not make them ideal opponents for Leopards.

Bobby Motaung, Amakhosi manager, told Sowetan yesterday that they were taking a full-strength squad to the match because they were eager to close the season with pride.

This means that the gifted David Mathebula will be part of the travelling party to Venda.

The hosts, though, should take heart in the fact that everybody is available in their enclosure for the match that many experts have already given to Chiefs.

Leopards should also be encouraged by their recent rich vein of form and Myron Shongwe, Jabulani Maluleke and Thabiso Hlalele should be the side's trump cards, once again.

Amabhubesi, meanwhile, will pin their hopes on Serge "Mavusana" Djiehoua, who scored a hat trick in their 3-2 triumph over Bidvest Wits in midweek.

Djiehoua, whom Royal are keen to keep in Empangeni for another season (his loan from Chiefs expires on Sunday) will be assisted by Bernard Parker.

Cosmos skipper Valery Nahayo said Royal will never know what hit them on Sunday.