uphill climb

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

FC AK face a Herculean task in their quest for automatic qualification to the Premiership after drawing 1-1 against Maritzburg United in their first-leg playoffs clash at Eldorado Park Stadium yesterday.

It was suicidal of Bahumi to drop two valuable points at home because it will not be easy for them to overcome United in their own back yard.

The two antagonists meet in the second leg at Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday.

Yesterday's match, watched by an impressive midweek crowd, saw both sides make early attempts on goal.

United were the first to test their opponents with Collen Zimba's effort just going wide in the first minute.

A defensive blunder by Michael Mogaladi nearly cost United but their goalie Dominique Sithole acted promptly to deny Rafique Hassim a goal in the third minute.

The near misses served only to inspire both teams, who managed to up the tempo, though most of their players appeared to be lacking match fitness.

Lucky "Romario" Maselesele watched in frustration when his intended long-range shot went askew in the 20th minute.

Maselelele was given another chance to shoot from the long range and his blistering drive hit the crossbar, leaving Sithole stranded as the ball bounced back into play in the 30th minute.

It found a well-placed Costa Khaiseb who finished coolly with a slow grass cutter that left the hosts' supporters celebrating joyously.

The Team of Choice looked an improved side from the restart and more organised in the midfield.

United's 57th-minute goal did not come as a total surprise to many at the stadium because of the amount of pressure they put FC AK under in this stanza.

The goal was scored by Fadlu Davids after connecting with a brilliant free kick from Zimba on the left flank.

Davids could have scored again in the similar fashion but he missed seven minutes later.

l Black Leopards visit Bay United in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday in their first-leg playoff match.

Lidoda Duvha host them in Thohoyandou on July 6.

Dynamos will play the loser between FC AK and United on the same dates. All the matches will kick off at 3pm.