Two Free State academic institutions, the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State, still have the daunting task of avoiding the dreaded relegation from the ABC Motsepe League. Both sides are in the bottom half of the Free State’s stream of the second-tier league. Surviving relegation is all the two institutions men’s football clubs must play for, given they are out of the championship race. Mangaung Unite is one of the hot favourites to win.Kovsies again shared the spoils with opponents CUT in a local derby played at the UFS sports complex in Bloemfontein on Saturday (02/02). The two sides drew 1 – 1 in this tightly contested return fixture in which they squandered golden scoring chances. In the first round of the competition they also shared the spoils after drawing 0 – 0. Sharing the spoils in last Saturday’s match was not enough to drastically improve their respective standings and break away from clubs in the dreaded zone. Other relegation contenders are Dikwena United of Qwaqwa (15th, on 18 points), Dla2 (16th, on 6 points), Days FC (13th, on 18 points) and Mphatlalatsane United (12th, on 18 points).CUT is currently in position ten with 19 points, while Kovsies is placed 14th on the table with 18 points. The two academic teams have both played 18 league matches and won just four of those fixtures thus far. To completely avoid relegation, both Kovsies and CUT are under pressure to garner at least 12 points in their forthcoming matches. This just-ended season of 2017-’18, the two teams also failed to establish themselves as prospective title challengers of the provincial ABC Motsepe League, as they finished outside the top five bracket. As things stand in the provincial championship, Mangaung look destined to again run away with the championship as they continue their winning streak. Still undefeated since the start of the current 2018-’19 season of the competition, the Bloemfontein outfit is on the crest of a wave, given the huge gap of 12 lead points. Mangaung are at the top with 50 points. The huge lead (from 9 points to 12) started taking effect after strong contenders Bloemfontein Young Tigers’ 0 – 1 crucial loss to Sibanye Golden Stars on the weekend. Mangaung capitalised on this, hammering Super Eagles by 3 – 0 in a fixture played at the UFS sports complex on the weekend. Despite the crucial loss, Tigers is still in second position on 38 points, while Stars notched the third spot and have 37 points following the hard-fought win. Inspired by the emphatic victory over Tigers, Stars look to beat Mangaung in an eagerly-awaited return fixture in Welkom on Saturday (09/02). Stars is expected to strive to revenge defeat in the first round and also end Mangaung’s unbeaten run.