Thanda up for Bay, but for key players

2011-06-08 00:00

DESPITE taking on Bay United in the National First Division (NFD) promotional play-offs first leg semi-final in Richard’s Bay this afternoon (2 pm) without their key players, Thanda Royal Zulu have vowed to make use of home advantage.

Thanda team manager Thabani Gumede revealed that they will do battle without striker Lindokuhle Bhengu and attacking midfielder Khumbulani Mdluli, who are nursing ankle injuries.

Since joining from Lamontville Golden Arrows in January, Bhengu has made a meaningful contribution, scoring twice.

Mdluli’s experience — he has represented the SA U/20 team at Cosafa tournaments — has been pivotal in Professor Ngubane’s team this season, popping up with crucial goals during the tough campaign.

“We can’t hide the fact we will miss the two players’ services, but we will soldier on. The coach will come up with a plan. For us to achieve our mission, we are calling on soccer lovers in the province to come in numbers to motivate the teams. Bay United shall return home shaken. We owe it to the people of KwaZulu-Natal to succeed in these play-offs so that we add numbers in terms of teams in the Premiership,” said Gumede, whose side finished as runners-up in the Coastal Stream.

In the absence of Bhengu and Mdluli, coach Ngubane may call on former Orlando Pirates striker Phumudzo Manenzhe and AmaZulu striker Sandile Gumede.

Bay, under the tutelage of former Santos coach David Bright, missed out on automatic promotion after ending the season on top of the Coastal Stream.

The Port Elizabeth outfit lost on penalties to Jomo Cosmos two weeks ago and Thanda should be wary of their opponents.

In another first leg semi-final, Black Leopards welcome Vasco Da Gama at Seshego Stadium in Limpopo for a 3 pm kick off.

Despite losing the Nedbank Cup final to Orlando Pirates, the Leopards put on an impressive display.

Sbusiso “Rhee” Zuma and his team-mates from Cape Town will have to dig deep to hold off the threat of David Thidiela’s boys.

The return legs have been pencilled in for Saturday

Entrance fee to the Thanda-Bay clash is R10.

Today will see the end of the atrocious system that has denied outright promotion to NFD champions since 2004.

Premier Soccer League Operations Officer Ronnie Schloss said that from the 2011/12 season, the NFD will adopt a single stream format where a winner will get automatic promotion to the elite league.

Schloss explained that a third placed side will also stand a chance to earn promotion.

“The new system will see the second-placed and third placed teams in the NFD battle it out with a club that finished 15th in the Premiership. The new format will be conducted in the mini league basis, which is the same model used in the English Championship.”

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