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COMMENT: Who are PSL relegation candidates?

08:00 BST 15/08/2018
Dan Malesela, Chippa United, July 2018
The 2018-19 PSL season is still in its early stages, but who are the early candidates for relegation?

The new 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season is now in full swing as it enters the third round of matches this week and some of the clubs have not had a convincing start.

Polokwane CityChippa United, Baroka FC and Highlands Park are some of the clubs worth a closer look. 

With teams such as Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic having already bagged two wins out in two matches, the same cannot be said about some this season.

Although it may be to soon to predict who may win the championship come May 2019, a few PSL teams may already be playing to avoid relegation. 


POLOKWANE CITY


The Citizens have made a number of changes in their technical team as they were hoping to reap the rewards as early as possible.

However, Jozef Vukusic is yet to find his footing despite getting information from his right hand man, Bernard Molekwa.

Molekwa has been with the club through thick and thin, and he has served as a caretaker coach on a number of occasions and knows the players and the culture of the club.

Contrastingly, looking at their progress so far, they have succumbed to two losses - losing to neighbours Black Leopards and Mamelodi Sundowns at home.

Losing twice and sitting at the bottom of the table is not a good sign for Rise and Shine and losing their third match against Baroka FC this weekend could spell trouble for them.

On the other hand, their key players such as Rodney Ramagalela and skipper Jabulani Maluleke are yet to find their form which made them one of the most fearful players in the league.

Since parting ways with coach Luc Eymael a season ago, City have never been the same as they struggled for points last season. Will this be their last seaosn in the top flight?


CHIPPA UNITED


Despite signing seasoned players in the likes of Thabo Nthethe and Daine Klate among others as well as bringing back coach Dan Malesela, the Chilli Boys are yet to hit the ground running.

The Port Elizabeth-based side has also lost two of their opening two PSL games to Phunya Sele Sele and Orlando Pirates.

Although Malesela has called for calm, promising that they will get their house in order, time waits for no man in the league and collecting points in the opening matches is always ideal.

Just like Polokwane City, Chippa are yet to find the back of the net this term and that should be a cause for concern for the coach and the club.

Up next for them is an encounter against the high flying Lidoda Duvha who have marked their PSL return with a draw and a win.

Sitting 15th on the log table with two losses exerts pressure on Malesela considering the fact that Eastern Cape-based has a track record of being trigger happy.

Should they lose to Leopards at home, the pressure will mount on the coach and it should come as no surprise to read on rumours regarding who will next occupy the hot seat.


HIGHLANDS PARK


The Lions of the North have made their return in style following an excellent run in the National First Division (NFD) as they regained their spot in the top tier via an automatic promotion.

Under the guidance of coach Owen Da Gama, the Tembisa-based club has started on a shaky ground so far as they drew their first two matches.

In their opening game at Orlando Stadium, they benefitted from Wayne Sandilands' blunder, but failed to have a shot on target in the entire 90 minutes.

Up against a well-known opponent in the form of Leopards, they were left to settle for point after conceding two goals in the dying minutes of the contest at the Makhulong Stadium.

Although they are yet to lose this term, there are taking time to adjust to the elite league and they have the reigning PSL champions in their next encounter away at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on August 22.

'ODG' was also quick to admit that they need to beef up their squad and the sooner he brings in a few quality players, the better the chances of retaining their PSL status and avoid seeing his side going down yet again.


BAROKA FC


Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele have made wholesale changes in their squad, and while they have done well to collect four points in the opening three matches, they will have to up their game to avoid a repeat of last season. 

Having roped in a new coach in Wedson Nyirenda, the side from Limpopo is also unconvincing so far after opening with a 1-0 loss to AmaZulu.

Just like Chippa, Baroka are also quick to press panic buttons when wins are hard to come by and having a squad made up of new faces could also be another concern for their survival hopes.

A lack of consistency has proven to be their worst enemy in recent times, especially after having a great start last season where they occupied the top spot, only to fight relegation in the latter stages of the campaign.

Surely Nyirenda will want to solve their problems and ensure that they take it one game at a time as they hope to become part of the three clubs representing Limpopo in the PSL for many seasons to come.