Black Leopards manager Tshifiwa ‘Chief’ Thidiela admits that the team feels enormous pressure to defeat second-placed Jomo Cosmos at Thohoyandou Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Lidoda Duvha will miss out on a play-offs spot if they lose their last game of the season and either Real Kings and Witbank Spurs win theirs.
Leopards are third on the NFD table with 47 points, two points ahead of Kings and Spurs.Thidiela says it will take some doing to beat a Cosmos team that has already qualified for the play-offs as they will be playing without any pressure.
“Obviously there’s pressure of wanting to qualify and it becomes difficult to play against a team that has already qualified because they’ve got nothing to play for,” says Thidiela.
“They will not play under pressure at all. Even if they can field their second-string team it will still be difficult for us as those players would want to prove a point so that they can get contracts. But we just need to be professional enough to handle this pressure. I think the good thing is not even about the other teams, we don’t really have to worry. We just have to do our job.
“We don’t need to go and make Sunday’s game special, we just have to take it like any other game because once we start stressing too much about it people will start panicking. The approach and preparations must just be the same; just go for three points.
“The main thing is for the supporters to come in numbers to give the players courage, to be our 12th player as they have been doing throughout the season.”
Kings will host Cape Town Stars at King Zwelithini Stadium, while Spurs will visit Royal Eagles in their final games. Both opponents are safe from relegation.