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NATIONAL FIRST DIVISION (NFD) table toppers Thanda Royal Zulu’s head coach, Roger Sikhakhane is aware of mounting pressure that their recent form might cause as the season goes on.
Sikhakhane’s charges have been outstanding since the beginning of the season, and they’re yet to be defeated in the 10 games they’ve played so far.
NFD clubs will be out of action this week, and will be back next weekend after the Fifa international break.
Thanda, who are now serving their eighth season in the NFD, are currently leading the log with 24 points.
Amabhubesi have opened a five points gap between them and second-placed Stellenbosch FC (formerly Vasco Da Gama)‚ who had a single season in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), that culminated in relegation in the 2010/11 season.
This season, it looks like we might see these two former PSL teams reclaiming the glory by bouncing back to the top flight if they continue playing like this.
Sikhakhane told SunSport they’re prepared for anything that might be thrown at them, good or bad.
He told SunSport: “At the moment things are going our way.
“We’re yet to lose a match, which is something we’re all happy about at the club.
“The boys are scoring goals and they’re not conceding many as we’ve conceded only nine.
“It shows the team is balanced.
“We’re fully aware that things might change along the way, but we are prepared.
“We’ll be able to handle it when we get to that point.”
The former Chippa United mentor has breathed a huge sigh of relief as the break came at the right time when they needed it.
Added the coach: “I have a thin squad of 26 players, including three goalkeepers and I’ve been rotating them in the past games.
“The break will benefit us as they’ll get time to recover and be ready for the remaining five games of the first round.”
Next Sunday, Thanda will visit AmaZulu in a KwaZulu-Natal derby at Princess Magogo Stadium (3.30pm).
“We’re looking forward to the next game and we will give it our best as we usually do with all other games.
“They (Amazulu) have not been doing well, but that does not mean we must take them lightly,” concluded the 40-year-old coach.
NEXT WEEKEND FIXTURES
Saturday 19 November:
University of Pretoria vs Magesi FC (Tuks Stadium)
Black LeopardsvMbombela United (Thohoyandou Stadium)
FC Cape TownvStellenbosch FC (NNK Rugby Stadium)
Milano United AFC vs (SantosAthlone Stadium)
Mthatha BucksvRoyal Eagles (Mthatha Stadium)
Sunday 20 November:
Cape Town All Stars vs Witbank Spurs (Athlone Stadium)
Jomo Cosmos vs Real Kings FC (Olen Park Stadium)
AmaZulu vs Thanda Royal Zulu FC (Princess Magogo)
MAGESI FC’S new coach, Shepherd Murape, has arranged a series of friendlies during the Fifa international break to help him get to know his players better.
Murape guided the National First Division (NFD) club currently sitting bottom of the table to a 1-1 draw against Mthatha Bucks at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in his first game in charge at the weekend.
The Zimbabwean, who has coached other Limpopo clubs, including Black Leopards and the now defunct Ria Stars, says he regards Limpopo as his second home.
Magesi, who won promotion from the ABC Motsepe League at the end of last season, are finding the going tough in the NFD but the experienced Murape believes he will be able to ensure their survival.
“I only had four days to prepare for my first game, which was a tough one for us. I’m quite happy we secured at least a point. Now I have an idea of what needs to be done with this team.
“I’ve realised that our decision-making and level of fitness are not up to scratch.
“But we are a work in progress, this coming break will give me and the players time to get to understand each other better.
“I’ve told the management that we want to play two or three friendlies against Premiership sides, which is bound to help us. After three games the boys will understand my philosophy.”
- Meanwhile Leopards, who were also playing their first match under new coach Sello Chokoe, lost 2-1 to on-form Witbank Spurs at Puma Rugby Stadium.
- Log leaders Thanda Royal Zulu, who have not tasted defeat this season, continued their dominance in the NFD when they defeated University of Pretoria 2-1 at Umhlathuze Sports Complex to open a five-point gap between them and Stellenbosch FC, who are in second place.
The Bayern Munich and Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches has been named 2016’s European Golden Boy, beating Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford into second place.
The annual award for Europe’s most impressive footballer under the age of 21 is run by the Italian newspaper Tuttosport, who will present the trophy to Sanches at a ceremony in Monte Carlo on Monday night. The 19-year-old, who joined Bayern in the summer from Benfica for an initial €30m and helped Portugal win Euro 2016, beat off the challenge of 39 other players on the shortlist to follow in the footsteps of former winners including Wayne Rooney, Mario Balotelli, and Paul Pogba. He becomes the first Portuguese player to win the award after Cristiano Ronaldo finished as runner-up behind Rooney.
“I’m beaming, this award has a global significance,” Sanches told Tuttosport. “But I am down to earth, I have much to learn mainly from my fantastic team-mates such as Vidal, Xabi, Tiago and Kimmich. I dedicate the Golden Boy to my family. The Champions League? Bayern will win, there is no debate: we are the strongest team on the planet.”
But after Anthony Martial’s triumph last year, Manchester United had to make do with second place despite Rashford’s brilliant breakthrough year at Old Trafford. The France and Bayern winger Kingsley Coman finished third, with Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma also in the top 10.
Alex Iwobi of Arsenal and Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur were among the other Premier League players to make the shortlist.
UNIVERSITY of Pretoria, who have been on and off in the National First Division (NFD), are hoping to build something positive from their past results.
AmaTuks started their NFD campaign with a fine performance, recording two victories in the opening two games. While fans were still enjoying that, the team started to drop points as they played a draw and lost two games.
The two-week Fifa break helped them right their wrongs.
Today the Pretoria-based outfit host Witbank Spurs who are not struggling at Tuks Stadium (3:30pm).
Coach Shaun Bartlett admits they are under pressure since they are at home.
He said: “We’ve not been doing well in our home games. We should step up and stamp the authority at home teams must not walkaway with the points. We’ve drawn positivity from our past game that we won against Leopards and we’ll build around that going forward.Keeping clean sheets is one of the things that we need to do, we must try by all means not to concede goals.”
) Meanwhile, Jomo Cosmos host Cape Town All Stars at Olen Park Stadium. All Stars have fired two coaches already and won one game this season.
The former Bafana Bafana Striker told SunSport that the games that they lost were eye openers for them and he can’t blame the players.
“It’s not easy for a new team to adapt to new circumstances in a short period of time but the boys had shown a fighting spirit. The two games that we failed to win shown us where we need to improve and we have been working on that to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes”.
BLACK Leopards chairman David Thidiela has admitted that they are under pressure to bounce back to the Absa Premiership this season.
Lidoda Duvha are now in their fourth season in the National First Division (NFD) after being relegated to the lower ranks in the 2012-13 season when they finished at the bottom of the PSL table with only 23 points.
In the 2014-15 season Leopards came close when they made it to the NFD play-offs but their dream of a return faded when Jomo Cosmos defeated Moroka Swallows 1-0 in the match that decided who would be promoted.
Thidiela, whose side host FC Cape Town at Thohoyandou Stadium tomorrow (3.30pm), says they know what is expected from the team this season.
He said: “We need to make our fans proud. There’s pressure from them now and understandably so. They are tired of the NFD. They want the club to go back to the PSL where it belongs.
“We must make sure we play our A-game this season to fulfil their dream.”
Leopards have not been consistent in the six games they have played so far. They have won two, lost two and drew the other two.
Last weekend they lost 2-0 to University of Pretoria in their own backyard.
Thidiela believes their coach, Jairos Tapera, can do the job: “We gave the coach a three-year contract because we believe in him, but he can’t do it alone.
“I’m not panicking. I would just love to see us going into the Christmas break in the top three teams. That would be good.”
JOMO Cosmos captain Frederic Nsabiyumva says their best is yet to come in the National First Division (NFD).
Ezenkosi had a slow start to the NFD season but it seems they have now found the piece that was missing from their puzzle. They drew their two opening matches 1-1 with FC Cape Town and Black Leopards respectively, then lost the third game 2-1 to Milano United in Cape Town.
The first victory of the season which boosted their confidence came when they defeated Mthatha Bucks 1-0. Since then they have not looked back, going on to defeat their former Absa Premiership rivals University of Pretoria 1-0 and AmaZulu 4-1.
Nsabiyumva told SunSport their struggle was just a minor problem which they had managed to rectify.
He said: “Defensively we were not up to standard but we have sorted it out. After not getting maximum points in the first match, coach Jomo Sono made changes, which have seen us turn the corner.
“We need to maintain a winning mentality. If we manage to do that, we will become even better than we are now.”
Cosmos have been shy in front of goal, having scored only nine goals so far.
The 21-year-old Burundian defender believes they have what it takes to bounce back to the top flight. “We have a strong team. I know it won’t to be easy but we want to bounce back to the PSL. And we are prepared for fight for it,” said Nsabiyumva.
Cosmos host struggling Cape Town All Stars in their next fixture at Olen Park Stadium on Sunday.
- Newly promoted Magesi FC seem to be the early donors of points in the NFD this season. They have lost four of their six games, winning one and drawing the other.