Bay, Sekhukhune slump opens up race

Things heat up in NFD as teams eye promotion

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Lwandile Mabuya of Richards Bay takes a shot at goal during the GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match between Cape Town All Stars and Richards Bay held at Parow Park in Cape Town on 6 April 2021.
Lwandile Mabuya of Richards Bay takes a shot at goal during the GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match between Cape Town All Stars and Richards Bay held at Parow Park in Cape Town on 6 April 2021.
Image: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Just three weeks ago, Richards Bay and Sekhukhune United were joint GladAfrica Championship table-toppers.

At that time, it was easy to say the fight to outright promotion was a two-horse race between these two sides. However, things have since taken a dramatic turn as Bay and Sekhukhune have slumped in recent games, giving at least five other teams a realistic chance to gain automatic promotion.

The Natal Rich Boys may still be at the summit of the table with 38 points from 22 games, but losing their last two games to Free State Stars and Uthongathi respectively has blown promotion fight wide open.

Winning just one of their last five outings, with two draws and a double of defeats, has since seen Sekhukhune drop to the fourth spot on the log, allowing TS Sporting and Royal AM to leapfrog them in the process.

Babina Noko are two points adrift of leaders Bay, having played a game more. Sporting and Royal, in the second and the third spots, are tied on 37 points with the latter boasting a game in hand, while the former have a better goal ration after 24 games.

Even fifth-placed Free State Stars, who’ve been enjoying an impressive run of form of late, are still much in within a chance to win automatic ascendancy to return to the elite league. Ea Lla Koto have the same number of points and games with Sekhukhune, with only goal ration the difference.

Under the stewardship of experienced coach Allan Freese, who promoted Highlands Park in the 2015/16 term, Ea Lla Koto have beaten direct rivals like Bay and JDR Stars. Freese’s vast experience could come handy for them.

JDR and Uthongathi are neck-and-neck on 33 points, occupying the sixth and seventh slot respectively. These two teams can still go all the way and topple Bay as well as they are showing signs that they'll finish strongly.

Results

Polokwane 1, All Stars 1; Sekhukhune 0, Cosmos 1; Spurs 1, Pondo Chiefs 2; Uthongathi 2, Bay 1; FS Stars 3, JDR 0; Sporting 3, AmaTuks 0; Umoya 1, Royal 1.

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