The season may have ended last month with Orlando Pirates pipping Moroka Swallows to the title in a thrilling finale, but for three clubs, there are still huge stakes to play for.
|Roscoe Pietersen @ Backpagepix
Chippa United and Thanda Royal Zulu, who finished in second and third place on the NFD log, are currently locked in a three-way battle with Santos, who finished 15th in the Absa Premiership, to determine which club plies its trade in the top flight next season.
The repercussions, in terms of financial implications, are huge. So too are the added benefits of exposure for both club and players, and for potential sponsorships in the Absa Premiership.
Santos have already laid down their marker with a 1-0 win over Thanda in Richards Bay, and on Saturday afternoon Chippa United get their first action in the play-offs when they host the KZN side at Athlone (15H00 kick off).
PSL.co.za takes a look at some of the players that could play an important role for their respective clubs.
Formerly known as Petrus Mahlatsi, Ngebo has turned out for Bloemfontein Celtic earlier in his career and has also represented Bafana Bafana. The tall muscular striker has been a big hit at Chippa since joining mid-season and has been on the score-sheet more often than not.
His physique makes him a challenge for any defence and his ability hold the ball up and play with his back to goal brings team-mates into play and opens up spaces.
Naturally a centre back, Pietersen is also deployed as an anchor man in midfield, where he is highly effective. His strength and intelligent reading of the game enables him to dominate the engine room, while his ball distribution and eye for the killer pass keeps his side moving forward with purpose.
Like Ngebo, Sauls is a mid-season signing who has made a huge impact, and he has managed a ratio of nearly a goal per game since arriving from FC AK. Sauls’ mobility and energetic running make him the perfect foil for Ngebo, the pair having proved to have formed a deadly combination.
THANDA ROYAL ZULU
The Nigerian front-man is a powerful and direct unit. His game is to run at defences, putting them under pressure with his direct and relentless approach. A shoot-on-sight, on either foot, policy makes him a constant threat for opposition defences.
Captain and centre back, Mvalo needs to play some big games in the upcoming weeks to keep his side in the hunt. Apart from Ngebo and Sauls, the Thanda defence will also find themselves up against the likes of Eleazar Rodgers, Erwin Isaacs and Vuyisile Wana – Mvalo will need to lead by example and can’t afford to put a foot wrong if the KZN team are to keep their hopes of promotion alive.