Thanda Royal Zulu coach Roger Sikhakhane targets nine more points to clinch the NFD title


Thanda were on Wednesday held to a 1-1 draw by Black Leopards, their closest rivals in the standings, to maintain a nine-point lead at the top of NFD with six league matches left.

For Thanda to be assured of a place in South Africa's top flight next season they need 10 points from a possible 18, which would take them to an unassailable 59 points overall and leave Leopards scrapping for a play-off spot.

Sikhakhane, who led Chippa United to their first promotion in 2013/14 season before being sacked and eventually returning to Thanda, admits he had hoped to take all the points against Lidoda Duvha this week but feels just three more wins will be enough to seal their promotion.

"We are not done yet and we need [to win] another two, three games to wrap it [the title] up. I'd say maybe nine points will be fine," Sikhakhane told reporters after yesterday's game.

"Also, maybe if we can win two and draw two or get nine points, and I think that we'll also be fine.

"But in this game [against Leopards] we planned for three points. Unfortunately, it wasn't so we'll take the point. I think it'll also help us as we still maintain our position on top of the log.

"If you look at the stats [league table] now you'll say Leopards must win six games to be on top of Thanda and Thanda must lose six games, and maybe Leopards must win three-nils and four-nils to be on top of Thanda, but I don't think that'll be possible.

"So for us it is very key to maintain the lead and if we don't get results, maximum results, then we'll take the point."

Against Leopards, Thanda saw the return of striker Mhlengi Cele from a knee injury after missing the previous three matches. The former Chippa United striker scored to put the home side in front on 16 minutes, peeling away from the visitors' defence and slotting past Aubrey Mathibe.

He was then substituted in the 57th minute after coming off worse following a collision with a Leopards defender, appearing to sprain his neck before being replaced by striker Thabiso Nkoana.

Sikhakhane, though, allayed fears of another long layoff, insisting the forward will be fit to face Royal Eagles on Saturday.

"I think he [Cele] had a neck twist but he'll be fine for Saturday," the coach added.

After AmaBhubesi's clash against Royal Eagles this weekend, their next matches before the season end are: Magesi FC at home on April 30, Stellenbosch FC at home on May 7, Cape Town All Stars away on May 12, FC Cape Town on May 21.

Their last game of the season will come as a relief as it will be a short trip away against neighbours Real Kings at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on April 28.