It will be a do-or-die clash for Chippa United when they face Free State Stars in their final Premier League game of the season at Goble Park in Bethlehem this afternoon.
Needing just a single point to ensure their survival, there will be no place for the faint-hearted on or off the field.
Chippa’s 3-0 win against SuperSport United last week saw them move from 15th place to 13th position on the log.
However, they are not out of the danger zone yet.
Today’s keenly-anticipated fixture will not be an easy one, as both teams are in the fight to avoid the big chop.
Both sides are level on points with only a point separating them from relegation-threatened Highlands Park, who are 15th on the log.
Highlands are only two points ahead of rock-bottom Baroka FC.
Rounding up the season, Chippa coach Dan Malesela said injuries had been the biggest setback.
The former Cape Town All Stars coach also said that the release and recruitment of some players had played a huge part in the club’s poor performance this season.
“We will sit down on Monday and analyse with the technical staff and everybody else who was involved where we went wrong,” Malesela said.
“I know a lot of areas that need to be corrected, but we cannot point a finger at one thing. The biggest killer of the season was the injuries.
“Also, we were inconsistent in terms of having a starting lineup. It’s only now, late in the season, where we played SuperSport United twice with the same team.”
The former Mamelodi Sundowns defender said programmes for injury prevention were needed, because most of their injuries were due to muscle strain or muscle pain.
“We need to really look at ourselves, because there are lot of games that we could have easily won,” Malesela said.
“We drew a lot of games that we were not supposed to draw.
“We have to also look at how we recruit, because I think I was a bit naive to look at talent rather than the overall player.
“I needed to look at the player’s background, how he behaved and what kind of a person he was.
“I needed to know that. Now I have learnt because, I’ll tell you what, Port Elizabeth is not an easy place for players to be.
“This club is the only team in the PSL here. I’ll be honest with you. There is this big varsity here with a whole lot of girls. These boys are available for these girls.
“Sometimes they don’t rest, because they are kept busy. So, we need to know how to manage these players.”
He said most of the teams struggling in the league this season were based in similar areas.
“You can’t blame these young men. They’ve got energy,” Malesela said.
“This is a reality and we have to help these players.”
Kick-off is at 3pm.