Spurs striving to climb out of Premiership basement

CAPE Town Spurs will be looking for their second win of the season against Swallows. | AYANDA NDAMANE

CAPE Town Spurs will be looking for their second win of the season against Swallows. | AYANDA NDAMANE

Published Mar 31, 2024


FOR the first time this season, Cape Town Spurs have a realistic chance of finally moving off the bottom of the DStv Premiership log today when they host beleaguered Moroka Swallows at the Athlone Stadium.

Spurs started the season on a disastrous note after they suffered 14 league defeats in their opening 16 games and looked like certain relegation candidates. However, with the arrival of Sean Connor and later, Ernst Middendorp, the team dramatically turned their season around, starting with an upset win over Orlando Pirates.

Current coach Middendorp has been tremendous in keeping Spurs on track to stave off relegation, and his charges are unbeaten in their last four matches. They had wins against AmaZulu and TS Galaxy and then scored away draws with Orlando Pirates and Stellenbosch.

Spurs have now reached a stage where they look set to achieve a mission impossible, and their cause will be boosted should Richards Bay and Swallows continue to drop points.

Swallows, in 14th place on 21 points, have two points from their last five games, while Richards Bay, in 15th place with 14 points, have three points from their last five games. In stark contrast, Spurs (on 12 points) have eight points from their last five games.

Spurs’ players are inspired by their current run of results, and it has lifted the dressing room mood, according to goalkeeper Neil Boshoff, who believes the team can continue bouncing back from their rank poor start to the season.

He praised the players for working well together and believes everything is falling into place for them now. The team can work together from front to back and this has helped them avoid conceding goals.

“Right now, every point is crucial for us, so as long as we keep showing up every day, we can just take each game as it comes,” said Boshoff.

“I think we’re in a good space at the moment.”

Swallows’ interim coach Musa Nyatama has had a dreadful run since taking over from Steve Komphela and will need a massive effort to turn the team’s ailing fortunes around.

One of the players who could help Nyatama achieve this objective is Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, who feels the squad must put behind them the coaching and playing personnel changes so that it does not disrupt their campaign.

“For now, I think we are trying to bring ourselves together because we have two other teams below us (in the relegation zone),” said Akpeyi.

“It’s just a matter of points. Yes, we’ve had our challenges, we’ve had our turbulences.

“We are looking forward to the next game because every game counts. We have to take every game like a cup final, but I have so much belief (even) though the squad is young.

“We have younger players who have just come into the PSL, who haven’t even played in the NFD (National First Division or Championship) before. This makes it more challenging.

“They’ve shown character, they’ve shown resilience and they’ve shown that they’re ready to break through and make their name in the PSL.”

The two players who could play leading roles in the outcome of the match are Boitumelo Radiopane of Spurs and Gabadinho Mhango of Swallows.

Young winger Radiopane has of late shown signs of improvement after returning from a long-term injury. Middendorp could give him a start in this fixture and will help him get back to his best. He is on loan at Spurs and Pirates are watching his form because they are keen to recall him next season.

Malawi striker Mhango, a former Pirates fan favourite, will be keen to get on the scoresheet in this relegation battle fixture. He has returned from international duty, having played for Malawi against Zambia and Kenya. Malawi lost both encounters.

The well-travelled Mhango, who played for six other PSL clubs before joining Swallows, needs one or two big games and he’ll be back on the radar of local clubs.