Verbal Warning banking on home advantage in playoff semis

The 2018/2019 Brakpan Local Football Association (LFA) Super League champions Verbal Warning believe that home advantage will help to carry them over the line in the match that will determine whether or not they gain promotion to the Ekurhuleni SAB League on the weekend, according to captain Bongani ‘Baggio’ Masondo.

This is as the Tsakane-based team will come up against Tembisa-based Pule FC in the semi-final of the playoffs between the winners of the various LFA senior men’s leagues from around Ekurhuleni, at Tsakane Stadium on Saturday (11am kick off), while Kwa-Thema’s Tornado Lions will play Vos Milan from Wattville, Benoni in the other semi, at 9am. The winners of the two matches will gain automatic promotion to the fourth-tier league before they even play the final at 3pm.

The four teams advanced to this stage after winning their respective groups in the group stage matches that were played at Tsakane and Kwa-Thema stadiums last weekend. Verbal won Group B after collecting 7 points from their three games in the four-team group, but only had to play two after Duduza-based Blue Birds didn’t show up for the derby match.

That resulted in Verbal being awarded three points, which subsequently helped them to advance, after they also beat Napken Ben 10s 5-1 on the back of a 1-1 draw with Under-19 regional league side Reiger Park Juventus.

Masondo says although they had a few challenges in the two matches, it did prepare them for Saturday’s all-important game: “It was a good preparation … the teams did give us a challenge, and we were also able to see (the difference between) playing on sand (and) playing on grass. We’re now older people and we’ve been playing for a long time, we’ve seen how we should maintain, playing on grass, so I think we’re ready.”

Baggio mentions the difference between playing on the two surfaces as his team is used to playing on sand pitches, which are the type of fields that are used in the Brakpan Super League.

The midfielder also says playing at Tsakane Stadium should also be to their advantage. “We really want this and we have the advantage that, I can say we are at home … it will be an advantage to us that everyone will be out to support us. Plus our families will be there, so it can’t be that people from outside can hurt us at home, so their support is very important.”