Stellenbosch, Baroka begin battle for PSL spot

Stellenbosch, Baroka begin battle for PSL spot
Letladi Madubanya of Baroka is challenged by Mark Mayambela of Ajax Cape Town during the Absa Premiership 2016/17 game between Ajax Cape Town and Baroka FC at Cape Town Stadium on 27 May 2017 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday May 30, 2017. 09:00

The 2016/17 Promotion Playoffs will begin on Wednesday afternoon when Stellenbosch FC host Baroka FC at the Athlone Stadium, kick-off at 15h00.

The Cape side enjoyed a fine campaign in the National First Division, earning their first appearance in the Playoffs by finishing in third place with a haul of 49 points from their 30 league matches.

That may be a full 13 points adrift of champions Thanda Royal Zulu (who earned automatic promotion), but it still represented a fine campaign for a new club (following the relocation and rebranding of Vasco da Gama) under the guidance of coach Sammy Troughton.

Their opponents will be Baroka FC, who saved themselves from direct relegation to the NFD this past weekend when they won 1-0 at Ajax Cape Town on the final day of the Absa Premiership season.

The Limpopo side, led by coach Kgoloko Thobejane, had a tough first season in the top flight and managed just five victories from their 30 matches - yet it was still enough to avoid last place, a fate which befell Highlands Park.

Baroka may well fancy their chances in this opening Playoff match: not only do they bring with them the momentum of a 1-0 win in Cape Town this past weekend, but they have performed better away from home this season, as evidenced by a return of 16 points on the road compared to 12 as hosts.

In fact, no less than four of their five league wins came in away matches, a fact which should make Troughton and Stellenbosch think twice about the ‘advantage’ of playing at home.

The other party in the three-way Playoff competition is Black Leopards, who will host the second match on Saturday when they welcome Stellenbosch to the Limpopo province.

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