VPL relegation race: The fight for survival

21Apr 2021
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
VPL relegation race: The fight for survival

WITH games coming in thick and fast, there is barely enough time to reflect upon the chaotic end to this Vodacom Premier League campaign.

Kagera Sugar players train in Bukoba recently. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KAGERA SUGAR

It appears that with approximately eight games to go, everything is to play for and only a handful of teams fully know their fate.

The relegation battle is looking increasingly congested. There are outfits that sit just above the relegation zone.

Gwambina FC, Namungo FC and Coastal Union are safe for now, but still close enough to be demoted where they will not be feeling comfortable.

The half-dozen teams circling the Premier League plughole, in descending order are Kagera Sugar, JKT Tanzania, Mtibwa Sugar, Ihefu FC, Mbeya City FC and Mwadui FC.

Barring a miracle, Mwadui FC– 11 points from safety, 16 points on the board, four wins all season – will be relegated from the Premier League this season.

They are left with three home games, two of which are against Mtibwa Sugar and Kagera Sugar who are both struggling in the relegation zone.

Mwadui FC is doomed to the First Division League in what has been a turbulent season both on and off the pitch with three coaches in charge.

Mbeya City FC started the season dreadfully, gaining two points from their opening seven games, leading to the sacking of coach Amri Said.

Thus, since they occupy the second automatic relegation place now, they are likely to join Mwadui FC to be relegated at the end of the season.

They were hard done in a 1-0 loss in a six pointer battle against Ihefu FC last weekend. Goal scoring has been a problem for Mbeya City FC this season.

Their current top scorer Denis Kibu Prosper has four goals. They need a clinical edge and certainly more goals if they are to beat the drop.

Now, Mtibwa Sugar find themselves in 18th spot and their 1-1 draw against Kagera Sugar extended the former's winless run to nine games stretching back to last year.

Worryingly for Mtibwa Sugar fans, their team faces many problems.

Mainly the defensive line is in crisis, they are struggling to find the back of the net, as they have only managed 10 goals so far. So, it is hard to expect much from the team.

The road ahead is not easy, with five away games against JKT Tanzania, Prisons, Namungo FC, Dodoma Jiji FC, and Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC) FC still to come, following a demoralising 5-0 defeat to Simba in recent days.

The newly-promoted Ihefu FC took a place at Tanzania’s top flight following the relegation of Mbao FC, Alliance FC, Ndanda FC and and Lipuli FC.

Ihefu FC did it the hard way by overcoming Mbao FC in the relegation/promotion play offs.

It will be a big ask for Ihefu FC to stay up at this point but fans would be crazy to rule the club out.

At this point in time, all of Ihefu FC's remaining opponents have something to play for, which only makes the task of surviving much more difficult.

Kagera Sugar’s transfer business in 2020/21 offered plenty of excitement that this could be a special season for the Bukoba club.

However, nobody expected a desperate season of struggle and a real possibility of relegation. They lie in the relegation play off place after a miserable campaign, two points off safety.

Kagera Sugar have home matches against Ihefu FC, Prisons, and Ruvu Shooting coming up, giving them the chance to gain points and rise to safety.

They have positive momentum since Francis Baraza took over as head coach with three away draws.

The sprint for safety is on in what is set to be a frantic finish at the bottom.

It will be very exciting to see how everything will fold at the end. Most likely the battle for survival will go down to the wire.

Mwadui FC’s relegation is inevitable but who joins them is anyone’s guess.

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