Lions face tough odds in play-offs

2010-03-10 00:00

DESPITE the odds seemingly stacked against them after being drawn away to Mpumalanga Black Aces in the National First Division (NFD) play-offs first-leg tie, KwaZulu-Natal promotion hopefuls Nathi Lions are putting on a brave face.

At the NFD promotion play-offs draw conducted at the Premier Soccer League offices in Gauteng yesterday, Lions were pitted against Aces in a first leg set for Emalahleni’s Atlantic Park Stadium next Wednesday.

Black Leopards, who lost out on automatic promotion to Vasco Da Gama at the weekend, have home advantage as they will clash against African Warriors on the same day.

Lions and Warriors came second in their respective Coastal and Inland streams, while Aces finished 15th in the PSL after holding Ajax Cape Town 1-1 in their last game.

The second leg takes place on March 24 and venues are still to be confirmed.

Speaking to The Witness shortly after the draw, Lions assistant coach Julius “JD” Dube said they are not worried about Aces’ advantage of playing the first game at home.

“It is a good draw for us because our preparations have been designed for any team that will contest the play-offs. We are aware that playing them [Aces] at home in the first leg might suit them because of the big crowd expected to rally behind them. However, we believe we have capable players who will go there and put up a strong challenge,” said Dube, who works alongside veteran mentor Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane.

Amabhubesi, as Lions are affectionately known, boast an array of players with PSL experience.

These include the likes of ex-Chiefs, Swallows and Aces striker Songwe Chalwe, defender Nhlanhla Mncube (ex-Arrows), winger Chris Makhoba (ex-Sundowns), defender Wiseman Made and winger Manelisi Gomishe (ex-Bush Bucks), and Malawian international Moses Chavula.

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