With majority of Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams left with just seven games, Goal looks at what the title contenders have to look forward to with the finish line now in sight.
Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando PIrates are currently in pole position to battle it out for the PSL title, whilst Free State Stars are certainly not out of it as they are in third place with 37 points, six points adrift of the log leaders.
However, with the title race hotting up, as Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has previously alluded to, the league is Sundowns’ to lose especially after overcoming AmaZulu on the weekend. But once Sundowns do return from Caf Champions League and Nedbank Cup action, arguably their most difficult fixtures will come in the form of games against Bidvest Wits and Maritzburg United, a team with an outside chance of nicking the title.
This however is a deep contract to the Buccaneers’ run in. While coach Milutin Sredojevic has transformed Pirates into one of the league’s form teams and will take much solace from their recent Soweto Derby win, what is in store for them is nothing short of overwhelming.
Pirates may not have the distraction of continental football unlike the Brazilians to worry about, but with a desperate SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City and Free State stars lying in wait on the final day of the season it does seem as though Pirates will have their work cut out if they are to are to have any hopes of winning the league title.
Not to mention that Sundowns are currently ahead of the Houghton-based outfit by four points, and it will take something special for Pirates to catch up to them. But stranger things have happened in football, and despite Sundowns having several big encounters there is always the possibility of a potential banana skin on the horizon, considering that a match up against relegation candidates Ajax Cape Town is scheduled for the penultimate matchday. That combined with the effects of fatigue due to participation on the continental and domestic front could prove difficult for Pitso Mosimane and his troops.
But it is also important to note that if Sundowns do slip up, Pirates aren’t the only team that could be breathing down their next. Ea Lla Koto in particular are enjoying a meteoric rise, and for many, their current position is already an achievement in its own right. But with an astute tactician such as Luc Eymael at the helm, surely the hunger to upset the apple cart is there.
Stars themselves, do not have the most difficult of run-ins, as they host Kaizer Chiefs before taking on Matsatsantsa and Pirates. Which means that if Sundowns do hit a wall, Stars are very much in with a shout.
It will also unfair not to mention Chiefs and Maritzburg in the list of contenders. While only two points separate both of them from Stars in third, there remains the possibility to contend although very unlikely that they will be in with a shout especially after slipping up against Orlando Pirates and SuperSport respectively.
Finally, what is apparent in the title run-in is the role of the outgoing PSL Champions Wits. It might not have been their best season, but they are still potential kingmakers which makes predicting a winner a whole lot harder.