The axe hangs over Black Aces

It’s crunch time for Mpumalanga Black Aces. Paul Dolezar’s side cannot afford to slip when they visit Bidvest Wits for their Absa Premiership second round encounter at Bidvest Wits Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off at 3.30pm.

Dolezar’s reputation is at stake. Since taking over from Neil Tovey, the coach has only managed one victory, when they defeated league champions SuperSport United 2-1.

Just when it seemed as if Aces had finally turned the corner and looked like having a chance of avoiding relegation, they suffered three successive defeats.

Last season Aces survived the dreaded axe by playing in the relegation/promotion playoffs. Coming into this game, Aces surely realize that they are once more flirting with disaster. Unless they take action, the team will find themselves out of the elite league come the end of the season.

To date, bottom-of-the-table AmaZayoni have only managed to collect eight points out of 20 games. Going into Saturday's clash against the ‘Clever Boys’, a lot will be expected from the Mpumalanga outfit.

Bidvest Wits’ fortunes seem to have changed for the better as they have rattled the net 13 times in their last three matches. The Clever boys hammered Vasco da Gama 6-0, routed Reunion’s US St Marienne 4-0 in the African Confederation Cup, and capped their good run of form with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Santos in a league encounter on Wednesday, a victory that saw them move from 12th position to seventh on the log.

Speaking ahead of this encounter, Aces coach Paul Dolezar expressed his thoughts on why his team hasn’t done well in their recent games.

“We have been playing well, but I’m not happy with my strikers because they seem to be showing a lot of respect to the opponent’s defenders.

“It’s getting a bit late; we have to start winning our matches and move out of the relegation zone. We need to be aggressive in front of goal and perfect our target shooting to get goals,”Dolezar said.

In the midst of that, the coach has confidently predicted that he will not get the chop down to the National First Division, but whether that is true remains to be seen.

Good news for Aces is that they will welcome back David Mathebula, Manqoba Ngwenya, Thabang Rooi and Fabian McCarthy, who all missed their 1-0 loss against Vasco da Gama last weekend.

From the Wits camp, inspirational captain Tefu Mashamaite said that since last season his team has always found it hard to play against Aces.

“They beat us last season at home, and we drew in our second round encounter. This season we drew one-all in their own back yard, and it means that we have not managed to beat them in a league encounter.

“It is always difficult playing against teams fighting relegation and this one will be no different. We are expecting another tough game because for Aces each game is like a cup final.

“It will be a thrill-a-minute affair, as Aces are fighting for survival and we want to guarantee our place in the top eight,” Mashamaite said.