Aces, Thanda Royal Zulu to play for their PSL lives

Mpumalanga Black Aces play the biggest game in the club’s history when they face Thanda Royal Zulu (TRZ) in the Premier Soccer League´s promotion/relegation playoff final second leg at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday night. Kick-off is at 8.15pm.

With the teams locked 0-0 after the first leg played in Witbank last Sunday, it is all to play for in what is going to be bigger than any cup final for both clubs.

Aces were beaten 1-0 in last season´s Nedbank Cup final by Mamelodi Sundowns, but this is a far bigger final for Aces with the winner going on to play in the Absa Premiership next season.

TRZ finished 15th in the Premiership and were forced into the playoffs.

TRZ edged out FC Cape Town in the semifinal of the playoff on the away goal rule, but now the chips are down and coach, Professor Ngubane, knows he and his players are playing for their PSL lives and cannot afford to sit back and allow Aces to come at them as they did in the first leg.

Aces coach Sammy Troughton has been hard at work keeping his players relaxed and focused this week.

Said the former Sundowns star: “There is no doubt this is the biggest day of our lives at Aces.

“The PSL is the promised land and we badly want to get there.
We are 90 minutes away from glory, but it is going to be a tough and long 90 minutes.

“I don’t want to think too hard on what can happen on Saturday night. It is so big for both sides.

“Thanda are fighting to stay in the PSL and we are going to fight all the way to get into the top league.”

Troughton said despite playing away in the second leg, he believed Aces had an advantage. “We know Thanda will have to open up and we will try and hit them on the counter.

“If we can score a goal in the first half they will have to score twice and they will be under a lot of pressure to do that.

“I expect they will change their game plan for the second leg. I was disappointed we did not score at home, but having said that, we have everything to play for.”

Aces captain Felix Musasa is available to play on Saturday despite the fact he was banned for four months and fined R100 000 for breaking Carara Kicks midfielder Buti Ngulube’s leg in a terrible tackle in the playoff semifinals in Welkom last month.

Musasa’s ban begins next week. The former Orlando Pirates defender will pay R10 000 of the fine, with the remaining R90 000
suspended for 12 months.

Troughton has a lot of experience in former Jomo Cosmos, Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic defender Lucas Tlhomelang, Musasa, former Bafana Bafana World Cup midfielder Teboho Mokoena, Songwe Chalwe and Sibusiso Dlamini.

Add to that the likes of striker Madoda Motha, promising midfielder Legume Itsegetseng and the dangerman Jacob Machaka, and you realise Aces will be hard to beat.

The Thanda defence with the likes of Phil Evans, James Madidilani and Ahmed Mohammed could have their hands full.

TRZ will rely on their experienced stars such as former Bafana striker Nkosinathi Nhleko and veteran Zimbabwean Peter Ndlovu, who came off the bench in the second half last Sunday. Ngubane is going to need all his experienced players to fire.

And with so much at stake a nail-biting final is guaranteed.—Sapa

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