Leopards will win play-offs: Masutha

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Former Black Leopards coach Joel Masutha.
Former Black Leopards coach Joel Masutha.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Former Black Leopards mentor Joel Masutha believes Lidoda Duvha’s experience in the promotion play-offs gives them the upper hand over Ajax Cape Town and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM).

Leopards, who plummeted to the play-offs after finishing 15th in the Premiership, begin their bid to remain a top-flight outfit by facing Ajax Cape at FNB Stadium this afternoon (3pm).

Heading into this game, the Urban Warriors are flying high, having outwitted Tshakhuma 3-2 in the opening game of this mini-league last Sunday.

Leopards hope to bounce back from their fateful 3-0 loss to Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns last Saturday. It’s that defeat that condemned the Venda side to the second-bottom spot.

Leopards have contested the promotion play-offs a number of times in the past, triumphing on two occasions (2010/11 and 2017/18 seasons) under the stewardship of Sunday Chidzambwa and Masutha, respectively. While Ajax had never played in this round-robin tournament prior to this season, it's TTM's second time after losing out to Maritzburg United last season.

“I think Leopards have enough quality to survive. Their experience in this situation [the play-offs] will be key. The fact that Ajax and TTM haven’t been involved in the play-offs before [TTM have once]  gives Leopards advantage,’’ Masutha told Sowetan yesterday.

The 49-year-old Masutha also underlined the importance of Leopards’ co-coach Morgan Shivambu in the play-offs. Shivambu, who now steers the ship alongside Mongezi Bobe, was Masutha’s second-in-command in the 2017/18 season.

“ ... [Shivambu] is a very humble and underrated football servant. He has a lot of experience, he was there with me when we won the play-offs and he was also there with me in the PSL and even with Dylan Kerr,’’ said Masutha.

“He was a caretaker coach at some point last season, where he got four points ... one win and a draw. That say’s a lot about this man.’’

After parting ways with second-tier outfit Real Kings in February, Masutha is raring to return to the dugout. “It’s been seven months sitting at home. I miss the game. I can’t wait to coach again.’’

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