It’s said, the promotion relegation matches will go down the wire too, just like the premiership.
CAPE TOWN – The recently completed Absa Premiership produced a dramatic end to the league season and there are hints that the PSL promotion/relegation playoffs could also go down to the wire.
The playoffs started at the weekend when Ajax Cape Town and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) featured in the opener at Rand Stadium.
The lead changed hands three times in the match before Ajax snatched the winner in the dying minutes for a 3-2 victory.
The playoffs continue today when Ajax run out for their second game against Premiership outfit Black Leopards at FNB Stadium (kickoff 3pm).
Soccer City was Leopards’ home ground during the ‘bio-bubble’ phase of the Premiership season and in their last game there a week ago they shocked highly-fancied Bidvest Wits with a 1-0 victory.
Things went pear-shaped for Leopards in their final Premiership game on Saturday when they were thrashed 3-0 by champions Sundowns.
When Leopards return today, they will be without three experienced players whose contracts ended with the last game of the season on Saturday.
Also, after their Wits conquest, their players felt that they had enough to avoid the playoffs. However, Baroka held Chiefs to a draw and that meant that Leopards were unable to avoid the playoffs.
Mongezi Bobe, the Black Leopards caretaker coach, will have a mammoth task preparing his players mentally for the match. He shared his thoughts at Saturday’s post-match interview on television and added that the players were ready to leave for home after the game against Sundowns.
“It is difficult because now we have to go back again and try to give the energy to these guys,” said Bobe.
“There is frustration because imagine packing your luggage and preparing to go home.
“It is going to be a difficult one because we did not want to go to the playoffs.
“It is going to be tough. Mentally we have to be strong. The players have to be strong. It will be tough, but we are going to fight.”
Ajax will be a completely different frame of mind. They have not been side-tracked by league commitments and mentally they are in the groove.
Their interim coach Calvin Marlin had identified a few work-ons following Sunday’s match. He brings a veritable mixture of youth and experience in his squad which will be loose in the vast, yet unfamiliar setting of the national stadium.