promotion race tight

Richard Nkosi

Richard Nkosi

The National First Division has entered its final stage and a number of teams are still in the running for the promotion-relegation playoffs in the off-season.

There is little separating teams in both streams in terms of qualifying for the national playoffs, and soccer lovers should expect a photo finish in May.

All teams have already started with their third-round matches.

NFD teams play a first and second round on a home and away basis and thereafter a third round, with the host team decided in a draw before the season starts.

There are seven matches in each round.

On the current league tables the coastal stream appears to be tighter than the inland one as only four points separate leaders Carara Kicks from fourth-placed Ikapa Sporting.

African Warriors and FC Cape Town are in second and third place respectively, trailing the leaders by one point.

FC Cape Town boasts the stream's leading scorer, Emmanuel Emenike, who is sitting on 12 strikes.

Winners Park forward Ndumiso Mabena is the inland stream top scorer with 10 goals.

All the teams have played 17 games and are left with four matches to go.

In the inland stream, Jomo Cosmos, AmaTuks and Winners Park are very much involved in the playoffs race.

Mpumalanga Black Aces, who will host AmaTuks tomorrow, will need to take full advantage of their two games in hand to be considered contenders.

Fees Moloi, manager of Warriors, told Sowetan yesterday: "We are definitely sure of a place in the playoffs.

"We are not relying on anyone to do us favours, but we will do it for ourselves by winning our remaining games."

Basil Mohalane, Kicks' general manager, whose side squandered a seven-point lead, said their recent slump in form was a wake-up call.

"We have forgotten about the Vasco da Gama defeat, now our focus is on FC Cape Town whom we want to beat this week," he said.

Trevor Lekalakala, Winners Park general manager, said their target was to get 35 points as this would guarantee them passage to the playoffs.

"If you look at the log standings, no one is guaranteed a position. From the 12 points we will are still to play for we are targeting eight," he said.

The winners of each stream will meet on a home and away basis in the first round of the playoffs, with the winner earning automatic promotion to the Absa Premiership.

The loser will play in the second round of playoffs where they will be joined by the runners-up from each stream, and the team that finishes 15th in the Premiership.

These clubs also play their fixtures on a home and away bases, with the winner also gaining promotion to the top flight. - additional reporting by Mcelwa Nchabeleng