Gallants downgrade from continental heroism to relegation dogfight


Marumo Gallants' deadly Zimbabwe striker, Ranga Chivaviro. Photo by Twitter

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THAT they are sitting in the bottom four in the domestic league and facing relegation, but are in the last four in continental competition and sensing glory, illustrate a puzzling 2022/23 campaign for Marumo Gallants.

The South African side has defied a miserable season in the DStv Premiership by reaching the semifinals of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) TotalEneriges Confederation Cup.

Lucrative Egyptian side, Pyramids, third in their domestic league, are the latest victim of the giant-killing exploits from the side based in the modest province of Limpopo.

Gallants are through to the penultimate stage of the Confederation Cup after a 2-1 aggregate score in the quarterfinals, to book a semifinal berth against Tanzania’s Young Africans, who booted Rivers United of Nigeria 2-0 on aggregate.

It was the latest in a series of spirited performances by Marumo, whose previous exploits saw them top Group A ahead of perennial continental tournament challengers, USM Alger (Algeria) and Saint Eloi Lupopo (Democratic Republic of Congo) as well as Libya’s Al-Akhdar.

The semifinals, which are two-legged like the quarterfinals and the final, are to be played on May 10 and 17.

ASEC Abidjan of Ivory Coast and USM Alger will contest the other semifinal.

After their exploits in the continent, for Gallants, it is back to the stressful task of avoiding relegation from the elite South African league.

On Wednesday, they are away to fellow relegation strugglers, Maritzburg United, who are bottom of the 16-team table.

The match is set for the Harry Gwala, kicking off at 17h15.

Gallants have form on their side, having not tasted defeat in the league since January 28, to an in-form Orlando Pirates that is on course to finish second behind soon-to-be re-crowned champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.

In Englishman Dylan Kerr, Gallants have a coach who has earned a reputation as a coach that saves teams from relegation. Ranga Chivaviro is in rampant scoring form, with his nine goals only two fewer than Sundowns’ Namibian hotshot, Peter Shalulile.

Kerr’s lads are on 14th, with 28 points, three ahead of Maritzburg and one more than the volatile Chippa United, at 15th.

Three games remain.

Also on Wednesday, Sundowns, fresh from qualifying for the semifinals of the CAF Champions League, are away to 11th placed AmaZulu. Kickoff is at 19h30 at the Princess Magogo.

Second-placed Pirates are home to inconsistent Royal AM (ninth) at Orlando. They kick off at 15h00. Pirates are on a terrific run, with six straight wins. Terrence Dzvukamanja has been terrorising opposition defences at will. He will again be their’ talisman.

The Zimbabwe international has developed a knack of hitting the net with spectacular headers, timely as the league heads to its conclusion.

At 17h15, seventh-placed Sekhukhune United will welcome TS Galaxy (13th) to the Peter Mokaba.

There are two matches at 19h30, including Cape Town City (fifth) versus Golden Arrows (tenth) at the DHL Cape Town Stadium and Richards Bay (12th) hosting 15th-placed Chippa at the King Goodwill Zwelithini.

– CAJ News


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