Anxious times for Downs, Cosmos

Jomo Cosmos © Backpagepix
It will be a case of ‘pick up the three points and run’ for both Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns when they lock horns in an Absa Premiership match to be played at 7:30pm on Wednesday evening at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.

Both teams are in need of the points for different reasons. Sundowns can see the title slipping from their grasp, while Cosmos are drifting closer and closer to the National First Division.

Cosmos’ relegation problems were compounded when they were beaten in their midweek fixture a week ago by Ajax Cape Town, which left them stone last on the PSL standings. They are four points adrift of 15th-placed Mpumalanga Black Aces.

To add to Esenkozi’s problems they go into this match minus key players Thapelo Tshilo and Bamuza Sono; the pair will miss the game as they are serving one-match suspensions.

According to Cosmos midfielder Siza Dlamini, the equation for his team is a simple one: “We have to play this game against Sundowns like our life depends on it. We want the three points badly. Hopefully we have luck on our side and will fight till the end to make sure that we get victory against Sundowns.”

Even though Cosmos find themselves at the foot of the table, Dlamini insists that the thought of playing First Division football next season is far from his and his teammates’ minds, while PSL survival is at the forefront of their plans.

“At the moment no one is thinking about the First Division. Anyone who is should not be at Cosmos. Right now we know we have a difficult game against Sundowns because they are after the title, but despite the fact that we have players missing we are determined to pick up six points from our remaining two matches. I believe that is all we need to be thinking of achieving at this point.”

Sundowns placed themselves in a strong position to fight for league honours, but dropping points against Santos and then having to fight back from two goals down to eventually draw 3-3 with Moroka Swallows, in a match that took two days to complete as a result of a floodlight failure, has put a dent in their title ambitions. They now find themselves four points behind league leaders SuperSport United.

The Brazilians need a win against Cosmos and have to hope that SuperSport United slip up in their game against Bidvest Wits, which will take place simultaneously, to ensure that they can take the title race to the final game of the season.

That is exactly what Sundowns defender Siyanda Xulu intends doing against Cosmos: “We must win at all costs, that is all. I know, and so do the rest of the guys, that this game, given Cosmos’ circumstances, is going to be a difficult one and poses many different challenges for us.”

According to Xulu, who has been Sundowns’ breakout rookie this season, the Brazilians have the mental strength to deal with the current situation they find themselves in.

“At the moment the fact that we are still in the title race at this stage is an achievement for this team. There was a time when we were something like eight or nine points behind the league leaders and we have been able to cut the gap down. We still believe and hope that we can win the league.”

The 19-year-old Xulu believes that he is being well guided during this tricky period, with the championship hanging in the balance, by experienced campaigners who have been there before.

“As a young player I feel I have benefitted and have been helped by having experienced players like Surprise Moriri and others around me. These guys have been in this situation before and have been advising me on how to deal with playing in our final two games.”