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HomeDStv PremiershipThe Relegation Battle Heats Up - Who'll Go Down?

The Relegation Battle Heats Up – Who’ll Go Down?

In this week’s feature brought to you by DStv, Rob Delport looks at the battle raging at the bottom of the DStv Premiership table.

There’s a battle brewing at the tail of the DStv Premiership table this season and just who will finish at the bottom remains a mystery with five rounds of league action still to be completed. 

Maritzburg United remain in a difficult spot, having picked up just 24 points in this campaign so far. Pundits have been surprised by their poor form this campaign, and because of the talent in their squad and having Fadlu Davids in charge, many are predicting them to still escape their predicament. Davids replaced John Maduka, who has since returned to Royal AM.

But the KwaZulu-Natal club are going to have to change their overall fortunes very soon. They have lost 13 of their 25 games, the most of any team, and they have one of the worst goal differences, having conceded 35 times, while only scoring 19 goals.

Their remaining five games are no walk in the park either, and their future may be decided in the next three matches – against Richards Bay at home, before two battles against fellow relegation battlers, away against Swallows and back at the Harry Gwala Stadium against a resurgent Marumo Gallants.

If they do not get positive results in those games, they may find the challenge of Stellenbosch and champions Sundowns too much to handle in their final two games.

Chippa United have been on a downward spiral and their loss to Marumo Gallants last week, saw them drop into 15th position (the promotional playoff spot) as Gallants’ push to escape the battle continues. They are also now out of the Nedbank Cup after Sunday’s loss to Sekhukhune United.

Chippa are on 26 points and their survival looked to be in the hands of Siyabulela Gwambi, their fourth coach of the season, even though rumour is it that Lehohonolo Seema is set to takeover to be coach number five. Whoever will be on the sidelines, he’s got a tough final four games to manoeuvre. After hosting Kaizer Chiefs, Chippa will have away games against Richards Bay and TS Galaxy, before finishing off at home against Golden Arrows.

It’s a tough schedule, and Chippa Mpengesi must be stressed. It didn’t work with Daine Klate, it didn’t work with Morgan Mammila, and it didn’t work with Kurt Lentjies. Gwambi has suffered two defeats in his first two games, and he may not get offered more.

Swallows are now behind Gallants on goal difference and with just 28 points are in real danger of being pulled into this fight, especially if other results continue to go against them. Musa Nyatama has been thrown into the deep end in his first season as a coach, and it’s sink or swim time. Dylan Kerr had started the campaign, but had work permit issues, and not long after he was granted it, he was shown the door. Ernst Middendorp came in, but a few months later, absconded to Germany to take over a team in their third division. Nyatama returned as caretaker coach, while Morgan Mammila came in as a technical advisor.

They will not have it easy, as their next game is away against top-eight-chasing Stellenbosch. But they do have two home games against fellow strugglers. After Stellies they host Maritzburg, before away games against Chiefs and Royal AM. Their final game is at home against Gallants.

Marumo Gallants continue to defy the odds, and having already surprised many by qualifying for the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finals, in the past few weeks they climbed from the bottom spot and out of the bottom three and onto 28 points.

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It is fair to say that their future is in their hands. They have a massive challenge in the CAFCC against the Egyptian side, Pyramids, but they also have a herculean challenge on the domestic front. After the two legs in the CAFCC, they visit Maritzburg United in what is going to be a key decider, before hosting Sundowns. They finish off the campaign against Swallows. It is a big challenge for their technical team of Raymond Mdaka and “consultant” Dylan Kerr. Changes have rung at Gallants too this season. Romain Folz started the campaign, Dan Malesela had a stint before the current set-up was put in place, while Mdaka has rotated between assistant and caretaker.

It is fair to say that those four teams are the main contenders for those last spots, but AmaZulu are also not out of danger, as they are only five points off the bottom spot, with 29 points.

And Usuthu arguably have the toughest run-in of all the teams in the bottom five, starting with an away game against SuperSport United. They then host Sekhukhune United and Sundowns, face Golden Arrows away, before ending with a home game against Orlando Pirates.

Ayanda Dlamini has been tasked to guide the team to safety, replacing Romain Folz, who in turn had replaced Brandon Truter.

While it is unlikely that all five of these get the positive results they want, TS Galaxy (10th) and Stellenbosch (11th) who are both on 30 points and even Richards Bay (9th) on 31 points, need to watch their backs. However, with these clubs eager to get into the top eight, they are more likely to push upward, though Richards Bay have been on a very poor run.

WHO DO YOU THINK WILL GET RELEGATE?

Rob Delport
Rob Delport
Rob Delport is a walking football encyclopedia, having been a mainstay in the Cape Town football scene for years. Rob has previously worked for SABC and various websites and publications across Africa, as well as being the South African Head Researcher for Football Manager and doing a similar role occasionally for EA Sports FIFA. Highly respected, Rob is now a senior iDiski Times website and newspaper writer, and is also responsible for the newspaper's editorial.
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