Relegation haunts Bongani Zungu

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Bafana teammates Lebo Mothiba and Bongani Zungu are having contrasting fortunes in the French Ligue 1. Picture: Samuel Shivambu /BackpagePix
Bafana teammates Lebo Mothiba and Bongani Zungu are having contrasting fortunes in the French Ligue 1. Picture: Samuel Shivambu /BackpagePix

This season could well prove to be one to forget for Bafana Bafana star Bongani Zungu.

Zungu’s French club Amiens SC rallied to hold title contenders Olympique Marseille to a 2-2 draw on Friday but the 27-year-old playmaker and his side remain in danger of being relegated.

The stalemate, in which Zungu featured for 90 minutes for his 21st league game of the campaign, extended Amiens’ winless run to 16 games.

As things stand, Amiens face the prospect of relegation. They remain second from the bottom of the 20-team Ligue 1 table with 10 games to go.

Since their last win in November – a 1-0 victory over Stade Brest 29 – Amiens has suffered nine league defeats, while seven of their games ended in draws, including a dramatic 4-4 stalemate with Paris Saint-Germain three weeks ago.

Demotion to the second division will only add to the heartbreak Zungu has already suffered in the new year after his dream move to La Liga collapsed on transfer deadline day in January.

Whether the playmaker from Duduza in Ekurhuleni will remain at Amiens remains to be seen.

He was set to sign for Real Mallorca on loan but the transfer fell through after Amiens decided to retain him on the grounds that the French club could not find his replacement in time.

Last season, another Bafana player Lebogang Phiri was demoted to the French Ligue 2 after his side En Avant Guingamp finished bottom of the table.

Although Zungu seems to have put the disappointment of not relocating to Spain behind him, he returned to France to the harsh realties of his club’s struggles this campaign.

While Zungu is in a fierce battle for survival, his national team-mates Keagan Dolly and Lebogang Mothiba were sitting pretty in the top half of the table prior to this weekend’s fixtures.

Dolly’s Montpellier were sixth, while Mothiba’s RC Strasbourg were placed 10th.

The Bafana pair added to the woes of their compatriot Zungu when Montpellier edged Amiens 2-1 in January, while Mothiba’s side were seemingly generous by sharing the spoils in a goalless draw a fortnight ago.

For Zungu and his side to move out of the quagmire, they should eliminate fellow strugglers Dijon FCO and Nîmes Olympique, who were both four points above Amiens before this weekend’s games.

Amiens face Dijon away on March 21 and host Nimes on April 18.

It won’t be an easy mission for the former Mamelodi Sundowns player Zungu as his team also have tough fixtures against Stade Rennes and Lille OSC, who are hoping to secure qualification for next season’s Uefa Champions League berths, among the Ligue 1 chasing pack.

Last season, another Bafana player Lebogang Phiri was demoted to the French Ligue 2 after his side En Avant Guingamp finished bottom of the table.

Zungu and his team finished 15th and the least they can do this time is drag themselves to play-off spot.


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