CAPE TOWN - It doesn’t matter where you look on the PSL standings, Wednesday’s penultimate round of fixtures will have a huge influence on the various outcomes.
Whether you focus on the two title-contenders, or the middle, where there is an almighty scrap to get into top eight, or the relegation bun-fight, there is very little room for error.
Cape Town City, in turn, are desperate to finish the season in third position, which is why the clash with Golden Arrows at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 7.30pm) is just as crucial if they are to achieve their objective.
City coach Eric Tinkler has been vocal about his desire to have depth in the squad. Truth be told, the Capetonians are not exactly where they need to be in this regard - and, no doubt, Tinkler will be looking to strengthen a few areas next season.
But, at left-back, the coach certainly doesn’t have to worry. In Ebrahim Seedat and Mozambican Edmilson Dove, City have two of the more accomplished flank defenders in the PSL.
Each player has his own strengths, but it offers Tinkler the opportunity to select on a horses-for-courses policy, safe in the knowledge that he trusts both players to always deliver of their best.
Capetonian Seedat, a former Belgravia High pupil, had a stellar junior career with Avendale Athletico and the African Soccer Development (ASD) Academy. It was while at ASD that he was spotted, and signed, by Belgian club Lokeren in 2011. He was back home the following year to sign for Wits before returning to Europe to play for Degerfors in Sweden in 2014.
On his return to Cape Town, he had a spell with Milano United in the First Division. But, when City were established in June last year, he headed down for a trial, impressed the club, and was signed. Ever since, he hasn’t looked back“It’s a tough one against Arrows,” said Seedat.
“They’re a good side, they keep the ball and always play with a good shape. But, for us, this is a must-win. It’s our home game and we have to make that count. We’ve been good at home this season and we just have to make sure that we stick to our game plan.”
Seedat acknowledged the stern competition for the left-back slot between him and Dove, but added that their relationship as teammates mirrored the team ethic in the squad - and that this unity was the main reason for City’s success.
“I am very happy with how my season has gone,” said Seedat. “I wanted to play more, I worked hard, and I got the game time I wanted. It doesn’t matter who is picked to play, the other will help and support.
“It has been the same for the team this season. We are a family and the togetherness among the players is amazing. We have our ups and downs, like any other football team, but we work things out quickly and get on with the job.”
At the summit, of course, Wits and Sundowns can ill-afford to drop points Wednesday night. Whoever loses could well hand the initiative to the other.
The Clever Boys are in pole position and they just need to make sure they win their remaining two games and the title’s in the bag. But, in the PSL, it’s never that simple. There are no easy games.
On Wednesday, Wits host Polokwane City in Johannesburg, while Sundowns take on Maritzburg United in Pretoria. Both opponents will be tricky for the title-contenders: Polokwane are sixth on the log and come off a superb win over Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend; Maritzburg are seventh on the standings and they, too, are in good form at present.
Meanwhile, Ajax head for Soweto with more than a dash of confidence after winning their last three games. The Cape side is likely to find the fixture against Orlando Pirates (kick-off 7.30pm) a rather daunting one, though, especially because the under-performing Buccaneers are determined to turn around what has definitely been a dismal season. The Soweto club (10th on the log) is still in with a shot at a top eight finish, though.
“We have to go there and try to save our position in the top eight,” said Ajax coach Stanley Menzo. “It will be up to Pirates, they are behind us, and they will have to make the game.
“But I was impressed with the energy and belief we showed in our last win. I am always looking for new challenges to inspire and motivate the team and myself as the coach. And the next challenge is to go for four wins in a row.”
Cape Town City v Golden Arrows (Athlone Stadium, 7.30pm); Orlando Pirates v Ajax Cape Town (Orlando Stadium, 7.30pm); Mamelodi Sundowns v Maritzburg Utd; Platinum Stars v Kaizer Chiefs; Bloemfontein Celtic v Free State Stars; Wits v Polokwane City; Baroka FC v Highlands Park; Chippa United v SuperSport United