South African NFD: Week 5 Preview

Two players in white kit challenging soccer player in red for the ball

We preview round five of the National First Division set to get underway on Saturday 23 September. 

The past round of fixtures have been very eventful with Uthongathi FC tasting defeat for the first time in the second tier. Stellenbosch are now top of the log, while two KwaZulu-Natal clubs, Royal Eagles and Richards Bay are languishing on the wrong end of the table.

The new week have some intriguing encounters in store for us with the top of the table clash between Stellenbosch and Cape Town All Stars being my pick of the round's action. Here are my predictions for all the NFD matches this week.

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Friday 22 September

Stellenbosch 9/10 | Draw 21/10 | Cape Town All Stars 28/10 (15:00)
Stellenbosch are riding the crest of the NFD wave with two wins and two draws so far. They narrowly missed out on promotion last season in the play-offs and they sure will be looking to qualify automatically this time around. Managing to stay undefeated in the early stages of the season having lost their coach Sammy Troughton to Free State Stars is a remarkable achievement.

Cape Town All Stars are breathing down the Stellies’ necks with only one point being the difference. All Stars, however, shockingly lost 3-1 to Mbombela at home last week and missed out on a chance to top the standings. This will be an intriguing derby and I’m tipping the Stellies to triumph.

Saturday 23 September

Black Leopards 14/10 | Draw 21/10 | Real Kings 17/10 (15:00)
Losing Siphelele Ntshangase to PSL side Baroka FC has vindicated the theory that Black Leopards has always been a one-man team. They have lost two matches running and they now find themselves in 12th place. It will take a mighty miracle for Lidoda Dubha to finish in the top three this season.

Real Kings are the real NFD kings of defensive football and they remain undefeated after four games with three of them ending all square. They are known for being involved in low-scoring games and they haven’t conceded more than one in their four games this season. I’m expecting another draw here; of course it’s a match involving Real Kings.

Mbombela Utd 23/20 | Draw 43/20 | Highlands Park 21/10 (15:00)
Mbombela have been very inconsistent this season, winning convincingly only to lose the next match. They’re currently fourth with two wins and two loses. They will perhaps go into this encounter oozing with confidence after an impressive display at Cape Town All Stars where they collected maximum points, courtesy of a 3-1 win.

Highlands Park kicked off the season with a bang, winning their opening two matches but it looks like they have hit a massive slump as they have now suffered back to back defeats. No one would expect that from a team that just got relegated from the elite league. I think this match will end in a draw.

Royal Eagles 11/10 | Draw 22/10 | Super Eagles 22/10 (15:00)
Royal Eagles amazingly remain winless in their opening four games and they are second from bottom of the table. They seem to be finding it difficult to adapt to coach Allan Freese’s tactics. Last season they were fighting for promotional play-off spots but this time around it’s an absolute contrast. They’re way off the pace with two defeats and two draws.

The Super Eagles of Free State have finally registered their first win of the season, beating fellow rookies Uthongathi FC last week. They’ve kept clean sheets in their last two games and they’re currently 13th with four points. I’m expecting Royal Eagles to turn their fortunes around and win this match.

Uthongathi 15/10 | Draw 21/10 | Mthatha Bucks 16/10 (15:00)
Uthongathi FC have finally been beating this season, succumbing 1-0 to another newly-promoted team in the shape of Super Eagles. The Cane Cutters have collected five out of a possible 12 points and they lie 11th on the NFD standings.

Mthatha Bucks may remain undefeated so far this season but it must be noted that they have drawn three out of four matches. It shows that they’re only good enough to be somewhere in the middle of the table. Last week they were held at home to a 1-1 draw by Witbank Spurs. I’m expecting the teams to cancel each other out.

Witbank Spurs 27/20 | Draw 43/20 | University of Pretoria 7/4 (15:00)
Spurs are one of those teams with three draws and one win so far this season and last week they ground out a hard-fought point at Umthatha Bucks. They are now facing a tougher test against second-placed AmaTuks.

University of Pretoria have suddenly turned their fortunes around and they now find themselves in third place and very much in contention for PSL promotion. They have won their recent two matches and we must not forget that they’re under the mentorship of Shaun Bartlett who secured promotion with Golden Arrows a few seasons ago. I think Tukkies will win.

Sunday 24 September 

Richards Bay 19/10 | Draw 43/20 | Tshakhuma 5/4 (15:00)
It hasn’t been looking good for Richards Bay as they find themselves rooted to the foot of the PSL table. The newly-formed franchise has lost two and drawn two of their opening four fixtures and relegation looms large.

Tshakhuma seem to have turned the corner. After losing the opening two matches, they managed to record back to back wins to put themselves in 10th place and they will be looking to smash the NFD whipping boys. The away win is the way to go.

Ubuntu Cape Town 7/4 | Draw 43/20 | Jomo Cosmos 13/10 (15:00)
Ubuntu Cape Town are just above the relegation zone with three draws and one defeat. They are winless and facing a Jomo Cosmos side that has title aspirations, which is going to be a tough task for them.

Jomo Cosmos is a good side but inconsistency has let them down. They come into this one with a record of two wins and two defeats. Ezenkosi are in fourth place and they want to gain automatic qualification or at least manage a play-off spot as they normally do. Put your money on King Jomo Sono’s boys to win this one.

Stellenbosch Win 9/10
Black Leopards vs Real Kings Draw 21/10
Jomo Cosmos Win 13/10

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