The Chilli Boys will be the favourites to retain their Premiership status in the three-team play-offs, but will have to keep their heads focused.
DURBAN – Chippa United started their PSL promotion/relegation play-offs on a solid note by recording a 2-1 victory over Richards Bay at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The Chilli Boys will be the favourites to retain their Premiership status in the three-team play-offs, but will have to keep focused.
Not only do the Eastern Cape-based team boast more Premiership experience than their play-off opponents, but they also have a better side on paper than the opposition.
Had it not been for poor leadership from the Chilli Boys’ hierarchy last season, there is a good chance that they would not even have had to focus on the added burden of the promotion/relegation battle.
— Buffalo City Metro (@OfficialBCMM) June 19, 2021
They showed that they can compete against any team in top-flight football as they advanced to the final of the Nedbank Cup before losing against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (now rebranded as Marumo Gallants FC).
“We didn’t know what to expect until the game started because of the factors happening before the game,” said Chippa coach Lehlohonolo Seema.
“We had to play things by the ear, but I must compliment the players from both teams because it was not easy to prepare for this game.
“We started very slowly because for the past three days, we didn’t know what would happen. The experience got us through in the end.”
Despite the win, Chippa were made to work hard.
Had it not been for some good defensive work from goalkeeper Ismail Watenga and veteran defender Kurt Lentjies, who produced a vital goal-line clearance, the game could have ended with a different scoreline.
They will have to keep their mental strength high.
The play-offs are physical contests with strategy and mental strength arguably being more important than the quality of play.
“It’s more about mental strength at this time,” said Seema. “We are happy that we got three points from the first match, but there is still a long way to go. We will now get to prepare better for the second game.”
Chippa’s next game will be against Royal AM of KwaZulu-Natal tomorrow.
It also remains to be seen if Royal AM will be able to respond positively after having lost their controversial court case to be awarded automatic promotion to the Premiership, following a controversial ending to the GladAfrica Championship (National First Division) season.