FEATURE: Who are the early contenders for PSL title?

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Goal assesses the top five sides in the league midway through the 2018/19 campaign

The 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaign is currently in a mid-season recess following the conclusion of the first round.

Several teams have established themselves as early season league title contenders which means we could be in for an enthralling second round.

Goal assesses the top five sides in the league and takes a look at the reason behind their early season form.


 Mamelodi Sundowns (22 Points)


The defending champions boast the longest unbeaten run in the league as they are undefeated in their last 25 matches in the competition having recorded 13 wins and 12 draws.

This is despite Sundowns having lost two of their best players in Percy Tau and Khama Billiat, who left the club at the end of last season.

The Brazilians, who are eight points behind Wits, have three games in hand and they boast the best defensive record in the competition having conceded only seven goals in 14 matches.

Although, many may argue that game in hands are not points in the bag, Sundowns remain the favourites to win the trophy as they have already come from behind to the clinch the title by winning their matches.

Record eight PSL title winners have been hit hard by injuries, but accomplished coach Pitso Mosimane has done well thus far by rotating players within his star-studded squad as looks to defend the title for the first time since 2007.


 Polokwane City (23 Points)


Jozef Vukusic, Polokwane City, August 2018

Rise and Shine are surely the surprise package of the first round having caught the eye with their exciting brand football which has seen them stun Kaizer Chiefs.

After losing their first two games, Jozef Vukusic's side went on a seven-match unbeaten run recording five victories and two draws, and that form cemented their place in the top eight.

However, the absence of the team's inspirational captain Jabulani Maluleke and reliable goalkeeper George Chigova saw the team struggle midway through the first round.

Serbian coach Vukusic will have to keep his key players fit if Polokwane City are to keep up with the pacesetters in the race for the title and go on to achieve their best finish in the league.

Rise and Shine, who are four points behind second-placed Orlando Pirates, have never won the league title.

 


 SuperSport United (23 Points)


SuperSport United, September 2018

Matsatsantsa had a good start to the current campaign despite losing their first match to Cape Town City, but wins over AmaZulu, Bidvest Wits and Chippa United followed.

They have a good home record having recorded four wins, two draws and one defeat which came against their city rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in the Tshwane Derby.

Despite having proven scorers like Evans Rusike and James Keene on their books, SuperSport have struggled in front of goal having scored 15 goals. .

The three-time PSL champions, who under the guidance Zimbabwean trainer Kaitano Tembo, will have to improve in front goal if they are to mount a serious challenge for the trophy after the break.

They are seven points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits, but the Tshwane giants have a game in hand.


 Orlando Pirates (27 Points)


The Buccaneers had to shrug off their early season struggles in order to establish themselves as one of the title contenders and they now find themselves in a good position during the break.

They are currently enjoying an eleven-match unbeaten run in the league having registered six victories and five draws which propelled them to the top of the standings, before being toppled by Wits.

PSL contenders

Pirates have been good travellers - winning five games, drawing two and losing one on the road, but they need to improve their home record which has seen them win only two games out of seven matches at the Orlando Stadium.

Serbian tactician Milutin Sredojevic and his assistant Rulani Mokwena have built a solid working relationship as they look to deliver Bucs' fifth league title, but consistency will be key.

Bucs are three points behind Wits with 15 matches left in the race for the most coveted trophy in the country.


 Bidvest Wits (30 Points)


Bidvest Wits have been revamped into serious title contenders by their accomplished coach Gavin Hunt and they deserve to be sitting at the top of the standings midway through the campaign.

The Clever Boys began the campaign like a house on fire winning their first three games, but they became inconsistent halfway through the first round, before regaining their winning form in December.

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They boast the best attack in the league having netted 22 goals and they also have the second-best defence having conceded nine goals which proves their title credentials.

Furthermore, Wits are undefeated on the road having recorded five victories and two draws - securing away victories against Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Prates and Cape Town City.

Hunt has laid a solid foundation in the first round and there's no doubt that the former PSL Coach of the Season can lead Wits to their second title in the recess.

 

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