Tuesday and Wednesday's PSL action preview: Can the Citizens maintain top spot?

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It could be a decisive week for the PSL title contenders as the Citizens look to grab the advantage against the Amakhosi on Tuesday night

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) resumes on Tuesday night, as the 2016/2017 PSL campaign reaches its business end.

While Cape Town City remain in pole position, the league race is destined to go down to the wire as The Citizens, Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns are all firmly in title contention. Tuesday night sees a host of PSL action and could have a massive influence on the title race.

In the pick of the night’s action, the log leaders City welcome the Amakhosi to Cape Town. The importance of the encounter on the title race cannot be stressed enough, as victory will give City breathing room between them and the chasing pack. Chiefs on the other hand, know that three points over the PSL new boys could propel them to the summit of the league table.

The glamour Boys will have a point to prove, following the weekend’s Nedbank Cup elimination at the hands of SuperSport United. Eric Tinkler’s men are expected to have the upper hand going into the encounter, as their inactivity on the weekend combined with Chiefs playing 120 minutes of football on Saturday, make the Mother City club favourites.

However, Chiefs will not go down without a fight. Steve Komphela’s side are unbeaten in the league in 2017 and with a lack of trophies at Naturena in recent times, the pressure will be on to bring home the league.

But the midweek game does not come without headaches for Komphela. The 49-year-old will be forced into changes, due to the suspension of Bafana Bafana defender Lorenzo Gordinho. Also, a doubt for the game is the Glamour Boys No1. Itumeleng Khune, after he sustained an injury during the penalty shoot-out against Matsatsantsa.

Nonetheless, Chiefs may welcome back veteran left back Tsepo Masilela, who missed the weekend’s game after failing a late fitness test. Meanwhile, for City they will be counting on the form of their lethal attacking trio of Lebogang Manyama, Aubrey Ngoma and Bhongolwethu Jayiya. The latter is expected to return to the starting line-up, after he started from the bench against Wits, in their last outing.

In the other massive clash on the night, Wits lock horns with SuperSport at the Bidvest Stadium. Nothing less than a win will do for the Students as they look to keep their title aspirations alive. But SuperSport will be a tricky outfit to contend with, considering the Tshwane side will be brimming in confidence, following the weekend’s Nedbank Cup Progression.

Nevertheless, SuperSport are still winless in their last five league encounters and go into the clash without head coach Stuart Baxter, who will miss SuperSport’s next two matches after being admitted for emergency medical treatment. Assistant coach Kaitano Tembo will take over the coaching duties in Baxter’s absence.  

On the side of Wits, Gavin Hunt will be counting on the like of Phakamani Mahlambi and Gabadinho Mhango to show some spark on the night. Wits were guilty of throwing away a glorious opportunity to move to the summit against City, a week ago and Hunt will not accept anything but the three points at home.

In the last of the top of the table clashes, Masandawana host Ajax Cape Town. Sundowns will be looking to continue their recent resurgence in the league but will also be going in search of revenge. The last time the two sides met the Urban Warriors pulled off a major upset as they defeated Pitso Mosimane’s men 2-0 in Cape Town. But on Tuesday night, the Brazilians will face off against a depleted Ikamva-based outfit. Stanley Menzo’s men have only won once in 2017, against relegation threatened Highlands Park, making the Tshwane giants clear favourites on the night.

While in the build up to the game coach Menzo has spoken about being mentally strong, it will take more than just a strong mindset to tame a hungry lion, at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

At the bottom of the PSL table, Bloemfontein Celtic face off against the Lions of the North. Both teams have the relegation axe floating above them and three points will go a long way in ensuring survival. Worrying for Celtic, has been their home form as Phunya Sele Sele have only won a solitary game in 2017.

Also on the night, Polokwane City host the high flying Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United travel to the Eastern Cape to face off against Chippa United. Both games may have little consequence on the top and bottom of the table, but victory or defeat on the night will go a long way towards any of the club’s top eight aspirations.

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Lastly, Wednesday evening can have dramatic implications on the bottom of the table as Orlando Pirates welcome bottom of the league, Baroka FC to the Orlando Stadium, and Platinum Stars welcome third from bottom Free State Stars to Rustenburg.  

Bakgaga and Ea Lla Koto are only a point off the automatic drop zone and victory on Wednesday night could give either team some much needed respite. However, Baroka have the arduous task of facing off against a rejuvenated Buccaneers. The Soweto giants have been playing an exciting brand of football and most recently advanced to the semi-finals of the knockout cup. Although, Pirates are on the rise it must be noted that victory will be vital as they are breathing down the necks of the Team of Choice, who occupy the last of the top eight positions.

No matter where you look, every game this week will have implications on the league table, making for an exciting two days of football.  

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