All eyes on relegation battle in DStv Premiership

All eyes on relegation battle in DStv Premiership
Thabo Matlaba of Swallows FC during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 football match between Swallows FC and Kaizer Chiefs at Dobsonville Stadium, Johannesburg on 28 November 2021 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday May 21, 2022. 11:00

The DStv Premiership’s relegation battle will be the focus of attention as the 2021-22 season effectively draws to a close with seven simultaneous matches across South Africa on Saturday afternoon.

The campaign will only officially be wrapped up when Orlando Pirates complete three matches which have been delayed by their progression to the final of the CAF Confederation Cup.

The battle at the bottom of the log will be played out across three key clashes: bottom of the log Baroka FC are away to Maritzburg United (who are not yet mathematically safe); second-from-bottom Swallows FC have a Soweto derby away to Kaizer Chiefs; and third-from-bottom TS Galaxy travel to Chippa United (who only secured safety last weekend).

The team which finishes bottom of the log suffers direct relegation to the GladAfrica Championship, while the second-from-bottom club will enter a three-way playoff with Pretoria University and Cape Town All Stars (second and third placed finishers in the GAC this season).

Just three points covers Maritzburg, Galaxy, Swallows and Baroka, leaving all four under threat of either direct relegation or the playoffs.

Swallows, on paper, have the toughest match and coach Dylan Kerr is hoping his team can shake off their ‘curse’ of struggling to score, having been held 0-0 at home by a dogged Chippa last weekend.

“I said to them [Swallows’ players] during the week that you have to be clever to beat the centre-backs at Chippa,” said Kerr.

“We took the game to them and I can’t fault the players for that. They knew how big this game was. But again, decision-making in and around the penalty area has hurt the club.

“We were wasteful. We dominated the game like we have done in all our PSL matches, but I think we’ve got this curse of not being able to put the ball in the back of the net.”

Baroka, meanwhile, could claim a first away win of the season at Maritzburg (who have a significantly superior goal difference) but still go down if results elsewhere are not favourable.

“It is not in our hands we have to rely on other results on the other side, but now we start preparing for Maritzburg,” coach Vincent Kobola said after Bakgaga ba Mphahlele kept their survival hopes alive with a win over SuperSport United last weekend.

“It is a must-win for us. I’ve said before that all our remaining matches were cup finals. We take the three points and move forward.”

Elsewhere, the battle for qualification to the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup berths will move closer to completion, with the key clashes being Royal AM hosting already-crowned champions Mamelodi Sundowns, as well as the derby between Stellenbosch FC and Cape Town City.

DStv Premiership Round 30 fixtures

Saturday 21 May, all matches kick-off at 15:00 CAT

– Royal AM v Mamelodi Sundowns

– Marumo Gallants v Sekhukhune United

– AmaZulu v Golden Arrows

– Chippa United v TS Galaxy

– Kaizer Chiefs v Swallows FC

– Maritzburg United v Baroka FC

– Stellenbosch FC v Cape Town City

Outstanding fixtures involving Orlando Pirates:

– Orlando Pirates v Maritzburg United, 25 May

– Royal AM v Orlando Pirates, 29 May

– SuperSport United v Orlando Pirates, 1 June

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