16 May 2017

Namibia: Shalulile Vows to Skip Relegation Axe

BRAVE Warriors striker Peter Shalulile has vowed that his team Highlands Park will skip the relegation axe as the South African Premier Soccer League reaches its conclusion.

With only two rounds of matches remaining in the league, five teams are within three points of each other at the bottom of the log and in danger of being relegated.

The bottom club will be automatically relegated while the second last club will be involved in promotion-relegation playoffs against the second- and third-placed teams in the National First Division.

Highlands Park are currently third from bottom on 25 points and are in the firing line along with Baroka FC (24 points), Chippa United (24), Free State Stars (26) and Bloemfontein Celtic (27).

Highlands play their penultimate league match away to bottom-placed Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Wednesday night and Shalulile said they were confident of victory.

"It's a very big game for us and a must-win match, but we are confident of winning. For sure, we will skip the relegation axe," he said.

"I've struggled with injuries this season, so I haven't had many opportunities and my performances have been inconsistent. But I've got my momentum back now and am confident of finishing on a high note," he added.

In their first round encounter the two sides drew 1-1 at Highlands Park's home ground of Balfour Park, but with tonight's match taking place at Baroka's home ground, Highlands will have to be at their best to win the match. Wednesday's encounter is all the more important for Highlands Park, since their last match of the season on 27 May is against second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, who are still in with a chance of winning the league title.

Shalulile's team mate and compatriot Chris Katjiukua has been out of action for a while, following a groin injury, but he has since recovered and is hopeful of playing on Wednesday.

"I'm over my injury now and my coach said he will use me against Baroka so I'm confident of playing. We are very positive of winning the match and are not even thinking about relegation," he said.

Another Namibian who should be in action on Wednesday is winger Deon Hotto when his side Bloemfontein Celtic host Free State Stars in the Bloemfontein derby at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.

Hotto has been a regular starter for Celtic this season, but they, too, are in the relegation battle and with their last match being a tough away encounter to Maritzburg United, they will be looking for maximum points against their neighbours.

Namibian strikers Henrico Botes and Benson Shilongo and defender Willem Mwedihanga could also all be in action on Wednesday when their team Platinum Stars entertain Kaizer Chiefs at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium near Rustenburg.

They have all played regularly for Stars this season, helping them to 11th position on the log on 31 points and out of the relegation zone.

Shilongo, in his first season with 'Dikwena' has been in fine form, and is currently their second top goal scorer in the league with five goals, just one behind Robert Ngambi.

He also played an important role in their CAF Confederation Cup match

against Mouloudia Club d'Alger of Algeria last Sunday when he provided the assist for Katlego Khunou's goal in their 1-1 draw.

They will be aiming for a win against Chiefs, who have dropped out of the title race and currently sit fifth on the log, 10 points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits.

Namibian goalkeeper Virgil Vries should also be in action when his side, Maritzburg United, travel to Pretoria to take on take on Mamelodi Sundowns. Vries has been a regular started for Maritzburg, who are seventh on the log on 36 points and well clear of the relegation zone.

Sundowns, however, are currently second on the log, only two points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits, and will be sure to go all out to collect maximum points against the 'Team of Choice.'

If they collect maximum points in their final two matches, they could still overtake Wits who host Polokwane City on Wednesday before taking on Kaizer Chiefs in their final match on 27 May.

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