Our football pundit previews the NFD Week 21 action which kicks off on Friday 16 February 2018.
With only 10 matches left before the season wraps up, it looks like PSL promotion is a certainty for Highlands Park. They are eight points clear at the summit of the standings and this week they face Jomo Cosmos, who are going through a rough patch.
Elsewhere, bottom-placed Ubuntu Cape Town recorded a morale-boosting victory over Polokwane City last week. Will they translate that performance to their NFD games? Let’s take a look at this week’s action.
Friday 16 February
Cape Town All Stars 37/20
Cape Town All Stars held their own against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup last week, losing only 1-0 at home. If they can replicate that performance in the league, a lot of teams can be in trouble. Igugu LeKapa currently sit 10th on the log but they’re six points off the top four places which gives them an outside chance of fighting for PSL promotion.
Tshakhuma are the form team with three consecutive wins in the league and they lie second on the log. They would like to cement their place while paying revenge as Cape Town All Stars beat them 2-0 in the Nedbank Cup play offs. It’s hard to win away in Cape Town but I foresee the form team prevailing.
Saturday 17 February
Black Leopards 12/10
Mbombela United 9/4
Black Leopards are steadily improving as the season progresses. They have won three and drawn one of their last five matches. Lidoda Duvha are tied on 28 points with their opponents and they will be looking to use home ground advantage to steer clear of them.
After starting the season superbly, challenging for the title, Mbombela United have plummeted to ninth. They have won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five matches. This will be a very stern test against a resurgent side in Limpopo. My money is on Leopards.
Mthatha Bucks 21/10
University of Pretoria 13/10
Mthatha Bucks who are second from the bottom on the NFD standings, uncharacteristically gave AmaZulu a run for their money in the Nedbank Cup. It took the KZN side a late equaliser and a penalty shootout to oust Amatholamnyama. They have to translate that to NFD games if they really want to survive.
University of Pretoria finally won a match last week, beating Jomo Cosmos 1-0 to end a six-match winless run. That has lifted them up to sixth and given them a chance to fight for promotion. I think AmaTuks will edge the hosts out.
Real Kings 7/10
Richards Bay 4/1
The KZN derby will be very exciting as it’s between two teams on opposite ends of the table. Real Kings lie third on the log which is a PSL promotional playoff spot, however, they are winless in the last two matches after being held 1-1 by Uthongathi and losing 2-1 at Witbank Spurs.
Richards Bay who looked like they would certainly be relegated until they appointed Jean Louis Losciuto as their head coach are now on the right track. They have climbed up to 12th and they have only lost one of their last five matches. A share of the spoils is on the cards.
Royal Eagles 7/10
Royal Eagles head into the KZN derby on the back of two consecutive wins. They are now third from the bottom and only one point is the difference between them and the drop zone. In a desperate effort to rescue their campaign, they have appointed Roger Sikhakhane as their head coach.
Uthongathi have endured a turbulent period under the mentorship of Sammy Troughton. The Cane Cutters have won, drawn and lost over the last three matches under his guidance. They have Philani Gumede suspended for six matches after being found guilty of assaulting a Richards Bay FC player Menzi Hlope. This is likely to end in a draw.
Sunday 18 February
Jomo Cosmos 19/10
Highlands Park 29/20
Jomo Cosmos are facing a very stern test against high-flying Highlands Park. Ezenkosi are winless in five matches. It is also very interesting to note that they haven’t lost a league match at home this season with a home record of seven wins and three draws.
Highlands Park are unbeaten in the league since gameweek five and they top the standings comfortably with an eight-point gap. The Lions of The North have a Nedbank Cup date with Stellenbosch on Wednesday but that won’t affect them as they will have three days to rest. I’m tipping Jomo Cosmos to lose their first home game of the season.
Ubuntu Cape Town 4/1
Stellenbosch are unbeaten in the last three matches which has revived their hopes of fighting for PSL promotion. Steve Barker’s men are fifth on the log and they showed mental strength in their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Uthongathi when they managed to see it off with 10-men after Devon Saal got sent off.
Ubuntu Cape Town have only won three of their 20 matches this season but they managed to progress to the Nedbank Cup last 16 against PSL side, Polokwane City, on penalties. It’s also interesting to note that two of their only three wins came within the most recent five games. I foresee The Stellies overcoming this potential banana skin, back them for a win.
Super Eagles 18/10
Witbank Spurs 17/10
Super Eagles know very well that they’re not yet safe from relegation dogfight as they are three points above the drop zone. They have won one and lost three of their last five matches. The Nedbank Cup clash against Free State Stars which has been postponed for Wednesday due to inclement weather might be a bit of a distraction.
Witbank Spurs have drawn 10 of their 20 games which is the most by any team in the league this season. This is a tough task away at a team that wants to steer clear of relegation. I say this will be another draw involving the Emalahleni outfit.
TREBLE @ 10/1
Tshakhuma Win 16/10
Highlands Park Win 29/20
Stellenbosch Win 7/10