With two matches remaining in the Premiership‚ Baroka FC and Highlands Park go into the relegation dogfight of their lives at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Wednesday.
With the battle for survival more open and unpredictable than before, the pair enter this potential season-defining match with one point separating them at the bottom of the standings.
Highlands are third-from-bottom with 25 points, while Baroka are perched at the foot of the table with 24 points. Between them is Chippa United‚ who host SuperSport United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Highlands’ assistant to head coach Les Grobler‚ Thiery Mabobo‚ said their hard-fought 1-0 win over Chippa United last week had boosted the club for their remaining two matches.
"We believe we will pull through this tough period. The win over Chippa is important because it gives us a cushion when we play against Baroka in our next game‚" Mabobo said.
"It is not going to be easy against Baroka‚ who are also fighting for their lives.
"We have to be on top of our game to beat them in front of their own supporters‚" he said, adding that the players had been offered large financial incentives if they kept the team in the PSL.
Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane is as adamant that "Bakgaga" will be playing PSL football next season despite their costly 3-2 defeat against Golden Arrows in Durban on Saturday in which they were denied a draw by a dubious disallowed penalty. "We can’t say we are happy about the last two results, but we have to accept them and move on.
"We are equal on points with Chippa United and the pressure is on. We will stay in the league‚" Thobejane said.
In their last match of the season‚ Highlands have a difficult assignment against Mamelodi Sundowns‚ who may need all three points to defend their PSL title and will not hold back.
Baroka travel to Ajax Cape Town for their last match‚ where it will be made clear who will be relegated and who will be going to the playoffs.
The team that finish 15th in the PSL will play StellenboschFC in Cape Town on May31 in the first game of the relegation/promotion playoffs.
Stellenbosch play Black Leopards in the second game of the playoffs in Giyani on June 3.