Richards Bay must dig deep to avoid relegation

Richards Bay head coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi instructs Langelihle Mhlongo during their DStv Premiership match against Stellenbosch. | BackpagePix

Richards Bay head coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi instructs Langelihle Mhlongo during their DStv Premiership match against Stellenbosch. | BackpagePix

Published May 27, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Richards Bay head coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi says he and his side feel the responsibility of securing the livelihoods of several families by retaining their top-flight status.

The Natal Rich Boyz won their last game of the regular season by claiming all three points against Stellenbosch on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough to prevent them heading to the 2023/2024 promotion/relegation play-offs.

The KwaZulu-Natal side was hoping to drag their provincial counterparts Royal AM into the 15th spot on the final day, but failed as Thwihli Thwahla won their game against Moroka Swallows.

Richards Bay celebrate scoring against Stellenbosch this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Vilakazi and his group will now face the tricky process of attempting to avoid relegation through a play-off series against the University of Pretoria and Baroka.

The play-offs will be played between June 2 and June 19 in a round-robin format that will see all three sides play each other home and away.

With Magesi FC having claimed their spot in next season’s DStv Premiership season by winning the Motsepe Foundation Championship, the wait is on to see which side becomes the 16th side in the top flight.

Richards Bay are looking to make it a third successive season in the top flight and entrusted that responsibility in December to Vilakazi, who took over from Kaitano Tembo.

The 41-year-old mentor spoke to the media in Umlazi after his side’s win and said he feels his group has embraced the accountability factor of ensuring the livelihoods of everyone associated with the club.

“I’ve been working on that ever since I got here; I’ve been making them (players) aware how important it is to save the team, when you look at the number of people working at Richards Bay, we have about 50 and that means we’re feeding more families with those 50 people,” he said.

“So we can’t let that opportunity just pass us like that, so we need to work hard, and the nice thing is if we work hard enough then we’ll retain the status.

“We just need to keep reinstalling that in their minds, but with the potential and the commitment I can’t doubt them because in the last seven games we’ve been competing strongly, so if we can have that attitude going to Baroka and Tuks, I believe we can be victorious.”

Club owner Jomo Biyela touched down at the King Zwelithini Stadium after the game and addressed both the players and supporters following their match against Stellies.

The tone of his speech was one of gratitude for their contributions throughout the season, and he urged everyone associated with the club to stay united ahead of their “final hurdle”.

“The chairman was very realistic and did well to thank these boys because he saw how deep they dug to avoid automatic relegation, and now the topic is no longer on avoiding relegation, but rather fighting to stay in the top flight,” said Vilakazi.

Related Topics:

dstv premiershipsoccer