This weekend sees the start of the National First Division marathon, a race that carries the biggest incentive of them all – promotion to the Absa Premiership.
Last season saw Baroka FC winning automatic promotion to the top flight, where they were joined by Highlands Park, who finished second in the NFD before winning the promotion play-offs involving Mbombela United and Jomo Cosmos.
The weekend fixtures are as follows, all games kicking off at 15:00:
Saturday, August 27, 2016
University of Pretoria v Cape Town All Stars – Tuks Stadium
AmaTuks return to the NFD after a four year stay in the PSL, while Professor Ngubane’s All Stars are into their third season in the National First Division and have made a string of new signings as they attempt to challenge for promotion.
Santos v Mbombela United – Parow Park
After a disappointing 2015/16 campaign, Zeca Marques’ Santos side have beefed up the squad with some new signings. Mbombela meanwhile will be looking to pick themselves up after failing to earn promotion via last season’s play-offs, the Mpumalanga club having finished third in their first season in the NFD.
Royal Eagles v Real Kings FC – Harry Gwala Stadium
Royal Eagles boast a very strong squad and will be hoping that Kosta Papic is the man to lead them to promotion. Fellow KZN side Real Kings FC begin their maiden NFD voyage after winning promotion form the Second Division.
Magesi FC v Thanda Royal Zulu FC – Old Peter Mokaba Stadium
Newly-promoted Magesi FC start life in the NFD with a home clash against Roger Sikhakhane’s Thanda side which just managed to avoid relegation last season.
Mthatha Bucks v Stellenbosch FC – Mthatha Stadium
Having occupied the drop zone for large parts of last season, Mthatha Bucks coach Velike Dyaloyi will be very eager to start the new season strongly and get some early points on the board. Stellenbosch, who last season played as Vasco da Gama, will have their own ambitions and can make a statement of intent with a positive result at what is a difficult away venue for most clubs.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Jomo Cosmos v FC Cape Town – Olen Park Stadium
Cosmos were left heartbroken on the last day of the 2015/ 16 Absa Premiership season when a 3-1 defeat by Maritzburg United condemned them to relegation. FC Cape Town meanwhile finished in 10th position in the NFD last season. AmaZulu v Black Leopards – Princess Magogo Stadium
AmaZulu had been hoping last season to bounce back to the PSL after their relegation the season before. It didn’t go as planned for the Durban side, who ended ninth. However, some big signings have been made and they’ll be hoping to be amongst the league’s front runners. After making the play-offs for two consecutive seasons, Leopards could only manage an eighth-placed finish last season.
Milano United AFC v Witbank Spurs – Blue Downs Stadium
Milano ended last season in sixth spot, while Spurs ended fourth; just two points separating them on the standings. Amongst the NFD’s more consistent campaigners, both clubs will surely be hoping this is the year they finally crack promotion.