On Sunday afternoon sparks are expected to fly when the top four NFD clubs, Mpumalanga Black Aces, Thanda Royal Zulu, Polokwane City and Santos, hit the road running for a place in the PSL.
In one of the most interesting days of the NSL’s second-tier history, which dates back to 1987, top-dogs Aces entertain second-placed Thanda, on-form City play away to Roses United, while Santos host Jomo Cosmos.
Each team has a chance of automatic promotion but with a mere point separating them, the title could be decided on goal-difference! With only the champions qualifying for automatic promotion, the second and third-placed sides get a second chance in the Play-offs, while the team that finishes fourth is completely out of the equation.
It’s going to be a day filled with excitement, so what are the permutations?
If Aces, currently a point ahead of the trio, want to secure their top-flight status they need that home win but after just losing 2-0 to relegated Dynamos, it might well be a tall order for Jacob Sakala’s team.
Soccer-Laduma has learnt from a reliable source that there was talk of AmaZayoni employing a psychologist so what happens if they do lose; say 1-0, to Amabhubhesi?
Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane’s Thanda will then be crowned NFD champions providing City and Santos don’t win by a larger margin.
Aces will therefore be out of the Play-offs, however, should they hold on for a draw then the situation becomes complicated because if Umlilo and The People’s Team follow suit there’ll be three teams on 47 points behind table-toppers, AmaZayoni.
Importantly, that’s when the calculators are used to see which two hold the best goal difference but if per chance teams find themselves on an equal footing in that respect - then it’s all down to goals scored!
At the moment Thanda has the best goal difference (12), followed by Polokwane City (11), Aces (10) and Santos (9).
City, which has netted an incredible 11 goals in their last four games, and has the most goals for (44), five ahead of Thanda, is definitely the team to watch. Should they pulverize Roses United by three goals or more they’ll automatically be in the PSL provided the other scores go their way.
Santos can also win the title if the other three fail to collect maximum points so it’s all to play for.
This is unprecedented territory which is going to keep fans on the edge of their seats and on cell phones for the entire 90 minutes.