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Cape Town Spurs in do-or-die clash

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Spurs find themselves in dire straits with only four wins after 26 matches this season and are at the bottom of the 16-team log. They are eight points adrift of 15th-placed Richards Bay who play Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday.

Ernst Middendorp, head coach of Cape Town Spurs during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 game against Richards Bay at Athlone Stadium on 26 April 2024. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Herman Gibbs

Cape Town Spurs have a date with fate on Tuesday night when they face Royal AM at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

For relegation-doomed Spurs, the clash amounts to a do-or-die scenario. They must win to keep alive their already very slim hopes of avoiding automatic relegation to the National First Division (NFD).

Spurs find themselves in dire straits with only four wins after 26 matches this season and are at the bottom of the 16-team log. They are eight points adrift of 15th-placed Richards Bay who play Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Wednesday.

By Wednesday the riddle of automatic relegation may be answered depending on the results of Spurs and Richards Bay. If Spurs lose and Richards Bay win, it will open an 11-point gap between the teams. Richards Bay will be in an unassailable position and Spurs will be relegated.

If both Spurs and Richards Bay win, the eight-point gap remains. With three games left for each team, Spurs will need a miracle to survive – Spurs must win all three of their matches, and hope Richards Bay lose all three of theirs.

The only season-ending Premiership riddle that has been solved is the matter of promotion. Clinton Larsen’s National First Division side Magesi FC have secured promotion to the top flight after defeating Milford FC on Sunday afternoon.

Spurs coach Ernst Middendorp knows the team needs a miracle.

“This is a situation we are in and it’s going to be tough,” said Middendorp.

“We have to see how to approach the remaining four games. Of course miracles do happen, but I’m being realistic and with four games to go, we have to fight.

“I’m busy all day with finding solutions for these games. We have several players not available.”

Royal AM are under pressure to perform and are desperate to secure a top-eight finish.

John Maduka’s men are winless in their past three league fixtures, including a 4-0 thumping against Orlando Pirates. The team also lost recently to SuperSport United.

Royal AM currently occupy 14th position in the standings with 29 points, but they have a game in hand over Moroka Swallows and Richards Bay who are 13th and 15th.

“We have to win our games, and I’m happy the question is about top eight and not relegation because we don’t think like that,” said Maduka. “We think forward and positive.”

Meanwhile, Spurs’ neighbours Cape Town City will make a bid to end their winless start to 2024 against Moroka Swallows at the Athlone Stadium today.

City were contenders for a top-two finish going into the mid-season break after winning nine of their opening 16 matches in the Premiership. However, their poor run of form in the second half of the season has seen the side drop out of contention for CAF Champions League football as they have failed to win a single game this year.

A 2-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates at the Cape Town Stadium last week Wednesday extended their winless sequence to 10 matches since City beat local rivals Cape Town Spurs 2-0 on New Year’s Eve.

Swallows have plummeted down the standings after winning just two of their 10 games this year. However, they managed to maintain the six-point cushion over relegation-threatened Richard Bay and find themselves in 13th position.

Their win over Chippa United last week gave them some breathing space, but coach Musa Nyatama stressed the importance of picking up as many points as possible in the run-in.

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