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Royal AM’s continental slot in danger

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Malawian coach John Maduka could see his dream of qualifying for the Caf Champions League up in smoke as South Africa’s DStv Premiership season officially enters its final round on Saturday.

Maduka’s Royal AM lie third on the table with 46 points from 28 matches, three points behind second-placed Cape Town City, who have played a game more.

This means Royal must win their remaining two fixtures against Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates to stand a chance of making it.

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The KwaZulu-Natal-based side faces Sundowns on Saturday before lining up against Pirates on May 29.

Winning both matches would see Royal cruising to second position, automatically qualifying for the Champions League in the process.

Maduka’s charges also stand a chance of competing in the Caf Confederation Cup should they finish third.

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Royal made life difficult for themselves after failing to win in five matches with their last league victory being against Marumo Gallants on April 6.

Their last match was a 2-2 stalemate against Golden Arrows on Saturday, which they drew 2-2 after taking the lead twice.

Other teams with a mathematical chance of upstaging Royal’s claim are Kaizer Chiefs, Stellenbosch and Orlando Pirates, who are fourth, fifth and seventh on the table, respectively.

Royal president Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize said the club will not add its name to the list of one-season wonders.

“We don’t want to be compared with anyone. People must allow us the space and know Royal AM as Royal AM. You can’t compare us to anyone because we have our own identity and let’s keep it like that. We take it one game at a time, and we are going to continue to do that if we go to the Caf,” Mkhize told South Africa’s online publication TimesLIVE.

Mkhize said Royal have not just been enjoying their journey into the top flight, but also learning and working on ways to improve going forward, with an ambition to change the status quo in South African football.

She told TimesLIVE that while Royal have overachieved according to the targets they set themselves ahead of their maiden season, they will not get carried away by the early success.

“Our long-term vision is to ensure KwaZulu-Natal teams are regularly in the running for top honours in the Premiership. Success is not planned but as I’ve always said this year, we wanted to save our status and we ended up being in the top two or three mix.

“The initial plan for next season was the top eight, and now we don’t know where we are going to end up. Our intention is to be in the top eight, but what I can say is that we are not here to add numbers. I think our biggest lesson for this season is that we must play every game as if it’s a cup final and not take anything for granted,” Mkhize said.

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