PSL

PSL title race is all in the mind

2017-04-09 06:04
DIVIDED ATTENTION: Stuart Baxter needs to make up his mind. (Samuel Shivambu, Backpagepix)

Johannesburg - With the Absa Premiership title race approaching boiling point, the off-field skirmishes are intensifying as team coaches play mind games.

Cape Town City’s Eric Tinkler this week tipped Bidvest Wits to walk away with the title, while his counterpart at the Students, Gavin Hunt, sang a different tune as he pointed in City’s direction.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane also said his money would be on City and Kaizer Chiefs because they were not involved in continental competitions.

League title

SuperSport United seem to have been rattled by the imminent departure of coach Stuart Baxter to Bafana Bafana. They suffered a shock loss to bottom-of-the-log Baroka FC last weekend, which dented their title ambitions.

The sooner they know where they stand with Baxter, the better it will be for the team.

Juggling continental competitions and domestic tournaments might be too much for United, who were away in Liberia this weekend for the CAF Confederations Cup.

Of all the contenders, Mosimane should be the most worried of the lot, having gone five games without a victory. Dropping 12 points has harmed Sundowns’ chances of successfully defending their league title – for now.

The Brazilians might have lost further ground in the title race, but, with 11 games to go, there will surely be more twists and turns before the final destination of the title is decided.

In fact, the race is now wide open, with Wits in a good position to walk away with the crown.

With two games in hand, the Students would be well aware that games in hand are not necessarily points in the bag, as Sundowns have discovered.

Wits are a point adrift log leaders City and if they win both matches, they will be in pole position to annex their maiden league title.

Although they would not admit it, being knocked out of the Nedbank Cup – they lost to Jomo Cosmos on Tuesday night – could be a blessing in disguise for the Students as it means playing fewer games and being able to focus on just two tournaments, the CAF Confederations Cup and the Absa Premiership.

Hard to predict

Wits will aim to topple City at the top when they host Golden Arrows on Tuesday. Hunt knows that he can no longer afford to drop points, particularly when playing at home.

But the game of the week will be the Tshwane derby on Thursday evening, when Sundowns welcome rivals SuperSport.

Matches between these two sides are hard to predict and it is even more difficult now as a lot is at stake.

Mosimane will hope to bounce back at the expense of SuperSport United. He knows that a win might just be what they need to boost their chances of defending their title.

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Fixtures
Saturday, 19 August 2017
AmaZulu FC v Free State Stars, King Zwelithini Stadium 15:00
SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns, Lucas Moripe Stadium 15:00
Polokwane City v Baroka FC, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:00
Orlando Pirates v Chippa United, Orlando Stadium 18:00
Ajax Cape Town v Golden Arrows, Cape Town Stadium 20:15
Sunday, 20 August 2017
Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs, Free State Stadium 15:00
Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United, Royal Bafokeng Stadium 15:00
Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Mamelodi Sundowns v Polokwane City, Loftus Versfeld Stadium 19:30
Chippa United v AmaZulu FC, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 19:30
Baroka FC v Orlando Pirates, Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
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The 2017/18 PSL season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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