Tough Bay United lie in wait for Leopards

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

They may not have the same status as their National First Division playoffs opponents Black Leopards but Bay United have proved to be an extraordinary club on the pitch.

They are a team made of stern stuff and Lidoda Duvha will need to tread cautiously when they confront them in the first leg of the playoffs at Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth, today.

Kickoff of this potential thriller is at 3pm.

The management of the Thohoyandou club will not only rely on the experience of their playing personnel to overcome United, but will also bank on the experience of their decorated French coach Paul Dolezar.

Interestingly, the hosts also have a good coach in Vladislav Heric whose tactical and technical savvy turned the Port Elizabeth club into one of the revered teams in their league.

Good news for United's supporters is that defender Duran Francis is fit to play this afternoon after recovering from a thigh injury.

But his level of fitness will be tested by Leopards' trusted forward Myron Shongwe.

Shongwe has been outstanding for Leopards in the Absa Premiership last season. But his contribution was not good enough for them to avoid being sucked into the playoffs where they face a fight to stay in the Premiership.

Jimmy Zakazaka, the former Free State Stars forward, has a knack of scoring when it matters most.

Leopards' defenders will need to stay focused because they will be up against seasoned forwards such as Linos Chalwe and Abayomi Adebayo.

Jabulani Maluleke, Fischer Kondowe and Hlompho Kekana also carry the hopes of the visitors.

So it remains to be seen whether Leopards will manage to emulate AmaZulu who successfully negotiated their way back into the top flight through the playoffs last season.