There’s not much left to play for in the English Premier League. The Bundesliga battle is all but done. On Wednesday however, wandering eyes will be firmly focused on a battle that is brewing in their own backyard - Everything is still at stake in the ABSA Premiership!
Wednesday’s action will see all 16 teams kicking off simultaneously and while attention turns to Wits and Sundowns at the top of the table, there is a real relegation dogfight that can hardly be ignored. Baroka host Highlands Park at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. Kick off at 7:30pm.
The ‘Lions of the North’ under caretaker coach Les Grobler earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Chippa United last time out to end a run of seven games without a win. Veteran striker Collins Mbesuma’s second half penalty secured a crucial 3 points that took them out of the drop zone as they leapfrogged both Chippa and Baroka into 14th place on the log ahead of Wednesday’s crunch encounter. Mbesuma’s goal took his modest tally to just four for this season. The last time Highlands Park faced Baroka, they ran out 2-1 winners in the reverse fixture back in September - the only previous meeting between the two teams and a night on which Mbesuma scored.
After stunning Sundowns last week, Baroka were brought back down to Earth away to Golden Arrows on the weekend. Several contentious decisions by referee Victor Gomes condemned Baroka to their 12th league defeat of the season and saw them slip to the foot of the table with just two games left to save themselves. The bottom side in the PSL will automatically drop down to the National First Division with the side finishing second from bottom in 15th place entering a three-team promotional play-off with two sides from the NFD, namely Black Leopards and Stellenbosch FC.
Highlands Park need just one victory to avoid the dreaded drop and secure a play-off spot at the very least and director Sinky Mnisi believes that just one win will be enough to secure their top-flight status for another season. He said ahead of their meeting on Wednesday “Baroka are in a critical position and so are we, we are going there to play. We need to win one game out of the two. We win one game and will be safe.”
A win over ‘Bakgaga’ will see Highlands move four points clear of their opponents before a final-day fixture against Pisto Mosimane’s title-chasing Mamelodi Sundowns and with Chippa taking on Supersport United at the same time ahead of their Nedbank Cup semi-final clash, the 17th of May could very well be the day that the last chapter is written in the relegation fight and that the fate of those involved in it is sealed.