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Title run-ins make for exciting times for fans

Opinion
JOHANNESBURG - Brace yourselves for the mother of all Absa Premiership title run-ins, South Africa.

And while it still looks like the battle for the ultimate honour in the local game remains a three-team contest, even the great Credo Muthwa would struggle to foretell who will end up victorious.

Would any of you soccer boffins have predicted Cape Town City’s defeat at Maritzburg United yesterday? I doubt it.

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Pitso Mosimane, coach of Mamelodi Sundowns Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Sure, Bidvest Wits always give Mamelodi Sundowns a tough time, but I’m sure not many would have tipped the Clever Boys to bag maximum points late on May Day.

There are still a few top-of-the-table clashes to come in the remaining four matches, leaving the challengers to cancel each other out in the race.

But it is the encounters against the lowly teams and those with pretty little to play for that are going to prove potential banana skins for the title hopefuls.

Take Maritzburg United for example.

Generally a struggling team in the elite league, the Team of Choice hosted high-flying City sitting pretty in mid-table.

One-time top eight finishers, the team from the KwaZulu Natal capital would love to qualify for yet another shot at the season-opening tournament, but failure to do so wouldn’t be a train smash given that they won’t be battling the relegation chop.

But as City found out to their detriment, such teams can be hard to beat.

Sure, City appeared to have left it all on the field when they beat Kaizer Chiefs in their thriller last week.

Championship sides, however, are those that manage to grind out results despite their earlier exertions.

And over the seasons, teams that were crowned kings of the local game have been those who managed to win against the so-called small sides while managing to at least get a point from the top contenders - a ploy multiple title-winning coaches Gavin Hunt and Gordon Igesund know only too well.

But the fact that City’s last defeat before yesterday’s was against lowly Free State Stars means they might just fall short of the glory they looked so good for - particularly whenever they take on the big guns.

And guess who is next up for Eric Tinkler’s team on Friday? Yep, Ea Lla Koto, who are now in desperate need for points to escape the looming axe.

Sundowns and Wits have fairly tough matches on Thursday when they host Platinum Stars and Orlando Pirates respectively, and any of those teams on their day could take maximum points from the championship hopefuls.

This Premiership title race is definitely far from over, especially with the top contenders still having tricky ties against lowly sides.

For us fans, it makes for an exciting time ahead.

The Star

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