Our writer previews the round 23 of the 2016/17 NFD campaign.The National First Division makes a quick return after Nedbank Cup action took centre stage last weekend. Just in case it slipped your mind, Thanda Royal Zulu are on top of the table, eight points clear of their nearest title-rivals – Black Leopards – with only eight rounds of football remaining until we reach the PSL play-offs.
Much further down the standings, Santos and Magesi FC find themselves in a relegation dog-fight but there is still hope for survival with three Cape Town-based teams not far off the drop zone. It’s been a season to remember and one that’s going down to the wire. But let’s not jump to conclusions, we still have enough time to make a bit of cash before the season is up, so let’s see find out what’s worth a punt in round 23!
Friday 14 April
Cape Town All Stars 11/10 | Draw 21/10 | Mbombela United 23/10
We kick-start things off with Cape Town All Stars taking on Mbombela United on Friday afternoon. The home side have failed to capitalise on home advantage this season, drawing six of their 10 home games. As a result, they find themselves fighting for their NFD status and anything short of a victory here will be detrimental to their chances of survival.
Mbombela United won their last away game, beating University of Pretoria 2-0 – convincingly, might I add – to claim their first victory on the road this season. They won the reverse tie 1-0 and will look to claim the double but the Capetonians have proven to be stubborn on home soil. Back the away team on the win/draw Double Chance at 6/10.
Saturday 15 April
University of Pretoria 13/10 | Draw 21/10 | Royal Eagles 19/10
University of Pretoria have struggled in recent weeks with three losses on the spin, scoring just twice and conceding nine times, including a 4-0 drubbing at Witbank last time out. AmaTuks also have a poor home record, claiming just four wins from 11 matches this season.
Royal Eagles were disappointing in gameweek 22, suffering a 4-2 defeat at relegation-candidates Magesi FC. Their lack of consistency may have cost them the title this season, but there is still plenty of hope of being promoted to the PSL via the play-offs. I would have backed the Over 2.5 Goals market if it were opened and I probably still will. But since there is no market for it at the moment, I would suggest taking Eagles to edge the win at 19/10.
Black Leopards 7/10 | Draw 24/10 | Real Kings FC 7/2
Black Leopards have been in top form with seven wins from their last eight games. Lidoda Duvha are unbeaten in their last six home games, including four wins on the spin. They won the reverse tie 2-1 and look decent value for the win here.
Real Kings FC may have one of the best home records in the league but they also have one of the worst away records as they remain winless on their travels, scoring eight goals and conceding 17 times. The home win should be backed.
FC Cape Town 9/10 | Draw 22/10 | Milano United 28/10
FC Cape Town are without a win in their last six matches, including a 2-1 home defeat against Black Leopards last time out. Their opponents, Milano United have the worst away record in the league with 10 losses from 11 games, scoring just eight goals and conceding 30 times.
Both teams are flirting with relegation, so neither side can afford to suffer a defeat here. A cagey contest is on the cards with FC Cape Town tipped to utilise home advantage.
Stellenbosch FC 17/20 | Draw 22/10 | Witbank Spurs 3/1
Stellenbosch FC and Witbank Spurs are both still in with a chance of promotion this season. The home side have been dismal on their ground with just four wins from 11 matches. Witbank have won two matches on the bounce, scoring six goals without conceding.
However, Siyavutha have been just as poor on their travels. The sides shared the spoils 1-1 in the corresponding fixture and are tipped to cancel each other out once more.
Mthatha Bucks 6/10 | Draw 26/10 | Santos 4/1
Mthatha Bucks come into this match unbeaten in their last four matches. They remain one of three teams undefeated on their home patch, while they have won back-to-back matches at their ground, edging Real Kings (2-1) and Magesi FC (3-2).
Basement dwellers Santos have registered only three wins from 22 matches this season. They are yet to win on their travels, scoring only eight goals and conceding 20 times. With that being said, get on the home win at 6/10.
Sunday 16 April
Jomo Cosmos 24/10 | Draw 22/10 | Thanda Royal Zulu 1/1
Jomo Cosmos suffered their first home defeat of the season last time out, going down 1-0 to Stellenbosch FC. Nonetheless, Ezenkosi have done well on their ground with seven wins from 11 matches, scoring 17 goals and conceding only seven times.
Table-toppers Thanda Royal Zulu have been impressive of late with back-to-back wins. They have tasted just one defeat all season, looking stronger and more determined after every game. Amabhubesi have won eight of the last nine meetings between the sides and are tipped to come away with maximum points.
AmaZulu 6/10 | Draw 26/10 | Magesi FC 4/1
AmaZulu have been below-par on their ground. However, before the break Usuthu had beaten Stellenbosch FC 2-1 in the Western Cape to keep their PSL promotion hopes alive. Magesi FC have shown plenty of fighting spirit despite their position on the standings.
The relegation-threatened side earned an impressive 4-2 home win over Royal Eagles last time out and will look to build on that. Magesi FC’s away record leaves a lot to be desired, however, with a winless run of 10 travels, including eight defeats and two draws. Back the home team to win.
TREBLE TIPPED @ 9/2
Black Leopards Win 7/10
Mthatha Bucks Win 6/10
Thanda Royal Zulu Win 1/1
Written by Aaron Crowie @Hollywoodbets