VPL 2020/21 relegation battle's final day permutations

17Jul 2021
Michael Mwebe
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
VPL 2020/21 relegation battle's final day permutations

THE longest Tanzanian domestic league campaign in history will come to an end some 11 months after it started when the final Vodacom Premier League standings are decided on Sunday, with plenty of relegation permutations in the final round of matches.

Mtibwa Sugar's striker, Harun Chanongo (R), dribbles past Mwadui FC defender as the two clubs locked horns in a recent Vodacom Premier League clash at Jamhuri Stadium in Morogoro. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MTIBWA SUGAR

All nine fixtures will kick-off simultaneously in what is set to be a thrilling finale in a bid to avoid direct relegation and the promotion/relegation play-offs.

Relegation has a huge effect on clubs, not only in terms of status but also Son the players and finances.

With sponsors pumping more money next season, the league is becoming more lucrative and there will be no shortage of motivation to stay in it.

As part of plans to make it more competitive and avoid the messy fixtures issues, the league will revert back to 16 clubs next season.

This season four teams will be automatically relegated, while two more will have a lifeline in the promotion and relegation play offs with two sides from the First Division League.

Mwadui FC has already been relegated, but who from Gwambina FC, Ihefu SC, JKT Tanzania, Coastal Union, and Mtibwa Sugar will be joining them in the First Division League?

Which team will get a shot at redemption via the relegation play-offs? And who will survive outright tomorrow?

Kagera Sugar will believe they can get the point they need against Coastal Union to ensure their safety.

The only scenario that could see Kagera Sugar slip into the relegation playoffs is if they draw or lose and Mtibwa Sugar and Mbeya City FC win.

Only a freak set of results for teams behind them would see the Kagera club drop into the relegation positions.

Mbeya City FC only survived last season's relegation thanks to goal difference.

They have lost only two of their last eight games, collecting 18 points out of a maximum of 24 to climb out of the direct relegation spots.

A home win against Biashara United removes any reliance on other results. Matching the teams below them will also see them over the line.

At 13th place, Mtibwa Sugar needs a point against hosts, JKT Tanzania, which would move them out of the play-off position on goal-difference, regardless of other results.

If Mtibwa Sugar loses and Coastal Union wins, the Morogoro side will play the relegation playoffs.

Counting against Coastal Union is that they have the worst goal-difference of all the struggling sides, and if they are to avoid the relegation playoffs, they must win against Kagera Sugar and hope Mtibwa Sugar and Mbeya City FC lose.

The JKT Tanzania have had chances to pull themselves above the waterline, but they have not taken enough of them.

The military side now needs to beat Mtibwa Sugar at home, whilst praying for Coastal Union downfall against Kagera Sugar.

In that scenario the team would climb into the relegation play-off position.

If Ihefu SC beats fourth-placed Kinondoni Municipal Council FC, then the Mbeya side can avoid automatic relegation, leap-frogging their opponents in the table but it would also take each of JKT Tanzania and Coastal Union to lose in order for them to finish in the play-off position. It is unlikely.

Gwambina FC failed to convert a penalty kick that would have earned them a vital draw against Mbeya City FC on Thursday.

The Misungwi District-based side is on 34 points and in the worst starting position out of their rivals heading into the final day.

At 17th place, Gwambina FC is all but relegated back to the First Division League already unless the squad pulls off a sizeable win against Prisons and then pray that Ihefu SC, JKT Tanzania and Coastal Union lose their matches in order to at least climb to the playoff spots.