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2019-01-23 06:00
Dikwena United defender Tshita Makeli battle for the ball with Mangaung Unite striker Sugar Ratutubana (maroon/white) during a return ABC Motsepe League fixture played at the University of the Free State sport complex in Bloemfontein last Saturday (18/01). Photo: Teboho Setena

Dikwena United defender Tshita Makeli battle for the ball with Mangaung Unite striker Sugar Ratutubana (maroon/white) during a return ABC Motsepe League fixture played at the University of the Free State sport complex in Bloemfontein last Saturday (18/01). Photo: Teboho Setena

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The second round of the Free State stream of the ABC Motsepe League, crucial in deciding the 2018/19 provincial winner is underway. The competition for the 16 men’s football clubs got off last Saturday (18/01) with matches played at different sport venues.

Some clubs emerged from the league fixtures with mixed bags of results. Fortune favoured the usual suspects, Mangaung Unite, Bloemfontein Young Tigers, Sibanye Golden Stars and Harmony. The four

top-seeded teams who are favourites to clinch the championship at the end of the season. Mphatlalatsane United registered a morale-boosting 2-0 win over struggling Days FC. The win is important to help avoid relegation than intensifying ambitions to challenge the four top-seeded teams in the championship race.

Current log-leaders Mangaung scored a double over QwaQwa-based Dikwena United a return grudge fixture played the University of the Free State sport complex in Bloemfontein. Mangaung beat the visitors Dikwena 3-0, having won 2-0 in the first leg played at the Phuthaditjhaba Stadium last year. Mangaung dominated the match which was the second for newly appointed coach Morena Ramorebodi, who has vast experienced coaching in the second-tier division. As head coach he helped promote Qwaqwa-based Maluti TVET College’s men’s team to the National First Division League in 2013 having played a major role in helping to promote African Warriors to NFDL in 2007.

The win stretched Mangaung unbeaten run to 14 matches in the current 2018/19 season and keep the nine points lead over local rivals Tigers, who are in second place with 35 points. Mangaung boast 44 points while Stars and Harmony in third and fourth position with 34 points, respectively.

Tigers ensured they remain intact in the championship race when they narrowly beat Bethlehem-based Super Eagles 2-1 – in this return fixture played at the Bohlokong Stadium. The previous match of the competition saw the two clubs share the spoils after they drew 1-1 in Bloemfontein. Harmony and Stars, both from Welkom record important 2-1 wins over, Knowledge Glen College and Central University of Technology, respectively.

With the provincial ABC Motsepe League championship in its final stage, the 16 clubs are under immense pressure to win the title and some avoid relegation. Title-chasers Mangaung have a crucial derby against CUT on Friday, 25 in Bloemfontein. The host CUT will be looking revenge the 3-1 defeat in the first leg against Mangaung. Tigers are bound to avoid any slip up against gutsy rookies Small Tigers in an equally important return match set for Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium on Saturday, 26.

Harmony will take on relegation-bound Dla2 in Qwaqwa. The fixture between Stars and Eagles has been postponed due to the latter’s engagement in the Nedbank Cup tournament. Eagles have been paired with Bloemfontein Celtic in a Nedbank Cup last-32 fixture in Bethlehem.

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