Rivals battle it out

2019-01-23 06:01

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 kicked off on Saturday (18/01) with matches at different venues.

Some clubs emerged from the league fixtures with mixed results.

Fortune favoured Mangaung Unite, Bloemfontein Young Tigers, Sibanye Golden Stars and Harmony. These four top-seeded teams are favourites to clinch the championship in the end.

Mphatlalatsane United registered a morale-boosting 2 – 0 win over struggling Days FC. This win is important to help avoid relegation.

Current log-leaders Mangaung scored a double over Qwaqwa-based Dikwena United in a return grudge fixture played at the University of the Free State sport complex in Bloemfontein.

Mangaung beat visitors Dikwena by 3 – 0, having won by 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 the Qwaqwa-based Maluti TVET College’s men’s team to the National First Division League in 2013, having played a major role to promote African Warriors to the league in 2007.

The win stretched Mangaung’s unbeaten run to 14 matches in the 2018-’19 season and kept a nine points lead over local rivals Tigers, who are in second place with 35 points.

Mangaung boasts 44 points while Stars and Harmony are in third and fourth position with 34 points respectively.

Tigers ensured they remain intact in the race when they narrowly beat Bethlehem-based Super Eagles by 2 – 1 in the return fixture played at the Bohlokong Stadium.

The previous match of the competition saw the two clubs sharing the spoils after they drew 1 – 1. Harmony and Stars, both from Welkom, recorded important 2 – 1 wins over Know­ledge Glen College and the Central University of Techno­logy (CUT) 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 to avoid relegation.

Title-chasers Mangaung have a crucial derby against CUT on Friday (25/01) in Bloemfontein. The host CUT will be looking for revenge for the 3 – 1 defeat in the first leg against Mangaung.

Tigers are bound to avoid any slip-up against Small Tigers in an equally important return match on the Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium on Saturday (26/01).

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.

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