The Vodacom League Play-offs this year will attract huge interest, because of the nationalisation of the First Division next season.
The Inland and Coastal Streams system that has been used for the past four years is to be dumped, and because of that the value of a First Division franchise will skyrocket.
Additionally, there will be a world of difference between the second and third tiers, which is pushing the nine provincial finalists to make the most of the Finals, being played in Cape Town from June 6-12.
Every day we will introduce you to two teams fighting it out for NFD status – today Chippa United FC and FC Buffalo.
COASTAL WESTERN CAPE – Chippa United FC Cape Town business tycoon Siviwe Mpengeni – who has interests in security, waste management, construction and cleaning – has taken Chippa straight to the Play-offs just over a year after buying the franchise of crumbling Mbekweni Cosmos.
With the professional salaries offered to players, the ‘Chilli Boys’ have been able to entice ex-PSL stars Ashley Opperman, Diego Brown, Abduraghmaan White (formerly with Bidvest Wits) and Welcome Qalanto, while they have Andile Mbeyane leading the team as captain.
On the bench they have Michael Lukhubeni, assisted by retired Duran Francis, and have used Phillipi Stadium as their home, though they train in Nyanga where they have their roots.
After losing just once in the 32 League matches that they played, their only other loss was against Witbank Spurs in the Nedbank Cup last 32.
Club administrator Wandisile Mbenguzana says they want to change the face of Cape Town football and he is confident they will use home ground advantage to good effect. They play in yellow and green.
EASTERN CAPE – FC Buffalo This is yet another province that was affected by cases that had to be settled in the boardroom.
FC Buffalo have already won the stream with 68 points – six clear of second placed FC Tornado, who had filed complaints against Buffalo.
The club is owned by Rodney Mashaya and coached by Bush Bucks legend William Mugeyi, who is assisted by Simon Nhunge and Meyisi Fuyane.
They have set base in the East London suburb of Southernhood and use the Jan Smuts Stadium as their home ground, where they also train.
Buffalo have Phelelo Pitso as captain while Bloemfontein Celtic reject Nathaniel November is a star player, along with Patrick Meso, Phikolethu Nogwazo Esau Mtsweni and Patrick Meso.
Though the club has been in existence since 2006, playing in the SAB League, they bought the franchise of The Guys last year. They play in green and white.