Cosmos in fight for Premiership survival

Jomo Cosmos are not pushing the panic buttons ... just yet.

Ezenkosi suffered their ninth defeat of the season when they were beaten 3-1 away to Bloemfontein Celtic on the weekend, which sees them drop to 15th spot on the Absa Premiership with 22 points—the same number as bottom team Black Leopards.

Cosmos face a rejuvenated Mamelodi Sundowns at Orkney’s Oppenheimer Stadium on Wednesday afternoon (3pm) in what could be a life and death 90 minutes for the goal-shy Ezenkosi.

But assistant coach Collen Tlemo said head coach Jomo Sono was not going to put his players under any pressure with three matches remaining.

Said Tlemo: “No question that we face three tough matches. But apart from Sundowns, the relegation decider will be our match against Leopards [scheduled for May 14 in Orkney].
That will decide who goes down. We will not change our approach, rather encourage the players to play their normal game and hope they can score a couple of goals this time.”

Downs coach Trott Moloto said he would be resting a few regulars ahead of their crunch African Champions League third-round, second-leg clash against Sudanese champions al-Hilal at the Super Stadium on Sunday

Under Moloto the Brazilians have taken on a new lease on life. The former Bafana Bafana coach has done well since replacing axed Gordon Igesund earlier this year.

Downs, who were fighting relegation before Moloto was appointed, are now fourth on 41 points and could finish second if they win their last three fixtures.

But that is not on Moloto’s agenda: “I will be happy to finish in a respectable position, say fourth or fifth. I am also looking at the bigger picture and that is Africa. The match against al-Hilal is important. The Cosmos game gives me the chance to give some of the players on the fringe a run and show me what they can do.”

That could work for Downs or it could backfire. Said Tlemo. “If Downs rest a few stars, then maybe that will upset their rhythm, but again it could work for them as the players coming in will have a point to prove to their coach.”

Cosmos’ biggest worry is their goal-shy strikers, who have netted only 13 goals in 27 matches.

Said Tlemo: “We know that is not good enough. I keep saying every match that we will come good. I hope that finally we can finish off the chances we create. We created numerous chances against Celtic and only scored one. We know we have to pull up our socks in attack.”

Tlemo is looking to the likes of Siza Dlamini, Nkosinathi Nhlapo, Geoffrey Massa and Tshepo Moloto to try to get past the hard-working Downs defence.

It will be a bit of a family affair as Tshepo Moloto is the nephew of Downs coach Trott, but that will be where the family love ends. Tshepo will be keen the end his more famous uncle’s rise up the Premiership.

In another clash on Wednesday night, Ajax Cape Town could go two points ahead of SuperSport United at the top of the table when they host AmaZulu at the Athlone Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Usuthu were beaten 1-0 by Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup semifinals in Potchefstroom on the weekend and will be keen to finish their last three league matches with a bang.—Sapa

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