Highlands Park confident of Absa Premiership relegation escape
Posted: 15 April 2017 Time: 10:50
Highlands Park are fully aware of their precarious league position, but believe they will still be able to survive the automatic drop at the end of the season.
Following defeat to Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday, the Lions of the North are now bottom of the Absa Premiership standings, and with just seven games remaining, the reality is that they need to find ways of collecting half the points they have pocketed to date to guarantee safety.
With just 20 points in the bag from the 23 games that they have played, they will now need 10 from the last seven encounters to be certain of staying alive in the PSL.
“We are definitely concerned,” admits club director Brad Kaftel talking to KickOff.com.
“The reality is that any team that gets promoted from the First Division will find it hard in their first season in the PSL because of the significant difference in quality between the two leagues. What is happening with us and Baroka brews true testimony to what I am saying.
"The PSL standards are much better; I am not discrediting the First Division in any way, but we have seen this happening even with Jomo Cosmos before and all other teams that were promoted. With us we are going to fight on because we still have a chance to stay up."
A glance at the standings shows just it is just six points separating 9th-placed Orlando Pirates – their next opponents – and basement club Highlands, and this is what is giving Kaftel hope.
“This league is tight and we feel we can get through,” he says. “If we win our next two games and the team in 9th place doesn’t pick points we will suddenly be level with them on points. Two games ago we were five points ahead of Baroka and they are now a point ahead of us after winning their last two while we lost.
“So we are backing the coach and the players through this challenging phase. If we get to 30 points then we should survive. What that means is that in the seven games remaining we must aim for at least three wins and a draw to reach that target which I feel is attainable, especially considering that we remain strong at home. From the four home games we believe we can win at least two and then from the three away we can win at least one.
“We are confident that the coach Gordon Igesund will get us the results that we need. The good thing is that every game we play remains winnable. I am sure you saw with Baroka beating SuperSport United … I mean, who would have predicted that? So we feel we can get points from any of the remaining games."
With Collins Mbesuma returning from a long injury lay-off, Highlands’ options in attack have widened and they will also be calling on the experience of Fikru Tefera and Surprise Moriri through these desperate times.