FEATURE: The teams pushing Sundowns in the PSL title race

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Goal takes a look at the teams that will be pushing the reigning African champions in the title race going into the second half of the season

Mamelodi Sundowns may be placed seventh on the log after nine league matches, but they are still genuine contenders for this season’s PSL title.

Two points per game are often enough to seal the title, and the Brazilians, despite their hectic schedule in 2016, have achieved just that so far – they are currently sitting on 19 points.

Goal takes a look at the teams that will be pushing the reigning African champions in the title race going into the second half of the season. Cape Town City, who are up there with the rest of the title chasers as well as Orlando Pirates didn't make the cut. 

This season's PSL title race will be between four teams - Sundowns, SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs. 


SUPERSPORT UNITED


Stuart Baxter’s side has shown signs that they indeed have what it takes to go all the way and win their first PSL title in eight years. They have easily beaten teams below them on their way to the top of the log in the first round.

They regained their hunger and the squad appears to be enjoying Baxter’s training methods and they're willing to play for the former Kaizer Chiefs mentor.

A number of their players, including eight who played under Baxter at Chiefs, know what it takes to lift the title having done so two years ago with the Soweto giants.

Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels - SuperSport United

They can score goals and defend well, and most importantly, they do not lose matches easily. After 14 rounds of fixtures, SuperSport United have conceded the least number of goals in the league (8), and they have outscored all the other PSL teams (21).

Baxter understands the importance of keeping his players happy, and it is for this reason he didn’t bring in too many players during the January transfer window – probably because he felt he had a team more than capable of mounting a serious title challenge.     


BIDVEST WITS


The Clever Boys looked very strong at the start of the season, and while they are still pretty much in the race, they will have to work on a few aspects of their game to really push Sundowns.

Defensively, they were shaky toward the end of last season, and if Gavin Hunt wants to claim his fourth managerial PSL title, he should change things around at the back.  

They have not done too badly in front of goal, but they should be disappointed that they have scored just 18 times in 13 matches, especially if they look at Sundowns, who scored the same number of goals in just nine league matches.

Bidvest Wits bench during the MTN8 final

Hunt boasts experience in his squad – from his goalkeepers to the striking department, and the return of James Keene from injury could give their title hopes a shot in the arm.

Like SuperSport United, Wits haven’t lost too many matches, but they need to be able to win games after conceding first; something that has been difficult for them to overcome this season.

What makes Wits dangerous though, is that they hardly lose against their title rivals and that could go a long way in helping them beat both Sundowns and SuperSport United to the title.  


KAIZER CHIEFS


The majority of football fans had already ruled Amakhosi out of the title race after their run of nine matches without a win last year, but they forced themselves back into the race with back-to-back wins over Polokwane City and Golden Arrows prior to the mid-season break.

Their main problem was their failure to put away the chances they created week in and week out, but with Camaldine Abraw back in the side after a long lay-off and Bernard Parker hitting form again, Chiefs can again fancy their chances.

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Lorenzo Gordinho, Steve Komphela and Willard Katsande of Kaizer Chiefs

Joseph Molangoane’s speed in wide areas coupled with his ability to score goals, should give them the edge over the other three teams vying for the title.

If Amakhosi can be able to turn draws into convincing wins and also keep calm when playing against top sides such as SuperSport United, Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns, then they will give Pitso Mosimane and his player a good run for their money this season. 

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