Absa Premiership

Drama at both ends of PSL log

2017-04-23 06:17
PERFECT FIT: Gustavo Páez has slotted in well at Kaizer Chiefs. (Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix)

Johannesburg - This PSL season has been exciting and ­unpredictable and the battle will most likely go down to the wire.

With six games left, the race to decide the champions is far from over. Added to this, the relegation dogfight could also be decided on the last day of the season.

At this stage of the campaign, mental strength is just as important as the physical ability to go the distance.

By the end of the month, we should know for sure who the real contenders are and who will most likely play in the National First Division next season.

Surprise package

Log leaders Cape Town City, and ­fellow contenders Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns, are now safe from relegation and cannot be overtaken by the bottom three.

After losing three games on the trot, it is safe to say that SuperSport United are out of the title race.

Not long ago, Chiefs didn’t look like they’d win the title, but the men from Naturena have clawed their way back into contention after going 12 league matches without defeat.

Amakhosi face a tough assignment in Cape Town on Tuesday against City, who have been the surprise package of the season.

This should be an interesting clash, as Chiefs will be looking to avenge their 1-0 MTN8 defeat to the same team in August last year. The two sides drew 1-1 in their first-round league encounter.

After losing three consecutive matches – twice to Sundowns and once to Baroka FC – SuperSport face another big test against Wits.

After being knocked out of the ­Nedbank Cup and the CAF Confederation Cup, Wits will be throwing everything into their PSL campaign in an ­attempt to lift the title for the first time.

Sundowns, who have recovered from their slump with three straight wins, face the daunting prospect of playing three matches within a week. They host Ajax Cape Town on Tuesday, before travelling to Golden Arrows on Friday. Then comes the massive clash against Wits next Monday.

Will test their strength

Although much of the focus has been on the title race, the real fight is at the opposite end of the table.

The battle to stave off relegation will grow more intense with every game played as just six points now separate the bottom eight clubs. In fact, even sixth-placed Polokwane City could still go down as there is a 10-point gap ­between them and the bottom’s ­Baroka, with 18 points left to play for.

If anything, this season’s finale promises to be the closest survival scrap in years, as few can guess which of the clubs fighting for their lives will remain in the top flight.

The relegation battle has been made all the more interesting by the fact that some of the teams in jeopardy have yet to play each other.

The battle to avoid the drop will ­intensify as Bloemfontein Celtic host Highlands Park on Tuesday, knowing that a victory will take them closer to safety.

Another intriguing clash will see Platinum Stars entertaining Free State Stars in another six-pointer at Moruleng Stadium on Wednesday night.

In another encounter on Wednesday, Baroka will test their strength against Orlando Pirates as they begin their own Operation Survival.

The good news for the neutral fans is that all the title contenders are in good form. The truth is, no club can afford a loss now.

Read more on:    psl  |  johannesburg  |  soccer

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Tuesday, 03 April 2018
Wits v Maritzburg United, Bidvest Stadium 19:30
AmaZulu FC v Ajax Cape Town, King Zwelithini Stadium 19:30
Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Free State Stars v Kaizer Chiefs, Goble Park 18:00
Cape Town City FC v Golden Arrows, Cape Town Stadium 19:30
Mamelodi Sundowns v Chippa United, Loftus Versfeld Stadium 19:30
Polokwane City v SuperSport United, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
Orlando Pirates v Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Stadium 19:30
Platinum Stars v Baroka FC, Royal Bafokeng Stadium 19:30
Friday, 06 April 2018
Ajax Cape Town v Wits, Athlone Stadium 20:00
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The 2017/18 Absa Premiership 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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