Bucks in mood for tough warfare in survival battle

The new man in charge at Mthatha Bucks, Julius “JD” Dube, expects a tough encounter against the 2017-18 National First Division (NFD) league title winners Highlands Park this afternoon at Makhulong Stadium.

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES: Mthatha Bucks players will be hoping to pick themselves up in a crucial league game against Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium this afternoon after playing a 2-2 draw against Richards Bay last week at Mthatha Stadium Picture: SUPPLIED

Bucks are still breathing a sigh of relief, coming out of a close 2-2 draw against Richards Bay at Mthatha Stadium last week after a last-minute goal in extra time by former Baroka leftback Tshepiso Lietsisa.

But that one point was not enough to help Amathol’amnyama vacate the basement of logstandings as they now have 21 points after playing their ninth draw with four wins and 13 losses.

Meanwhile, the Lions of the North will be handed their NFD trophy on May 6 when they play their last fixture against Stellenbosch FC at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.

The Johannesburg-based outfit has collected 59 points after 18 wins, five draws and three losses.

Dube, whom many see as the Bucks’ messiah, said playing an away game against a high-scoring team was going to be very challenging, but they had prepared well for the match as they were in desperate need for points in order to avoid relegation.

“They’ve already won the league title, and they score goals and people like them are very dangerous.

“We may go to them thinking that they’ll go easy on us, but that won’t be the case.

“As we’re at the bottom of the logstandings, we have nothing to lose, we are just going to give it our best shot and the nice thing is that we have been preparing for this game.

“And if we can manage to not concede, that would be good for us because we can’t go back and just defend throughout the game,” said Dube.

He said his charges showed the much-needed fighting spirit during the game against Richards Bay.

“They showed that they didn’t want to lose and managed to achieve that because after we conceded the second goal, they managed to come back.

“That makes me happy even though their performance was not what I was expecting in terms of play – but the spirit really made me happy.

“And I took out a positive from those game-scoring goals which we’ve been struggling to score.”

Dube said they had to work hard to maintain a stable defence by maintaining high discipline in that department.

“If we can get goal one and defend well – we can win this game. So that’s the positive and the negative from that game – we conceded but we tried to work on that department.”

He said at this stage of their seemingly diminishing campaign to remain in NFD, they didn’t care about how many points they returned home with.

“We need a point or even three points or whatever that we can get from this game, because we are not in a good position.

“And if you check, Highlands Park has been doing well – even though they have won the league already.

“Because they’ve been winning, so we need to be on our toes during this game,” said Dube.

Other fixtures: Richards Bay v Super Eagles (Umhlathuze Sports Complex), University of Pretoria v Cape Town All Stars (Tuks Stadium), TTM FC v Real Kings (Thohoyandou Stadium), Mbombela United v Stellenbosch (Kanyamazane Stadium), Uthongathi v Ubuntu CT (Princess Magogo Stadium).