CAPE TOWN - Cape Town City have eight games in which to make history. That’s the amount of games left in the season and, needless to say, they’ll have to treat each and every one like a cup final. There is no room for error.
City are on 42 points, followed by Wits (41), Kaizer Chiefs (39), SuperSport United (37) and Mamelodi Sundowns (35). Log leaders City are preparing for a tough PSL encounter against Platinum Stars in Moruleng on Thursday night (6pm), and no doubt, there will be a hit of revenge in the air.
The last time City played Platinum it was the game after they had won the Telkom Knockout Cup. Still hungover from the success, they came unstuck and lost 4-0 to the Rustenburg-based team at the Cape Town Stadium in December. Now, with the Capetonians most definitely in the race for the title, they will be keen to do the same to Platinum on Thursday.
The Rustenburg team was in the Ivory Coast on Saturday for the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup match against Association Sportive de Tanda. The travel could play a role in how Platinum perform against City, but coach Eric Tinkler is certain to pay no heed to any such complacency. He’ll have the Cape side motivated and prepared for a fixture they can ill-afford to lose.
Meanwhile, Gordon Igesund has coached so many clubs in the PSL it’s inevitable that, most weeks, he invariably comes up against a former team. This week is no different, though it’ll certainly be a nostalgic return to the Mother City when the much-travelled, highly-successful 60-year-old coach brings his Highlands Park side to take on Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 7.30pm).
Igesund had an enjoyable spell at Ajax (from 2002-2006) and steered them to a runners-up position during one of those seasons. But, in football, things are never static. The sport moves on and so do players and coaches. Igesund is now in charge of Highlands, and he has been tasked with ensuring the rookie club’s survival during its first PSL campaign.
The mid-to-lower positions on the PSL standings are quite tight at this stage. Maritzburg United occupy eighth spot with 26 points, while fourth-from-bottom Ajax have 22 and second-from-bottom Highlands have 20. All it needs is for a club to string together two or three wins and they charge up the league table.
Both Ajax and Highlands are fully aware of this, hence the importance of the three points on offer when the two clubs meet. Both come off defeats last week - Ajax away to Maritzburg and Highlands away to Golden Arrows. As such, both teams will be more than keen to make amends.
Igesund is keeping a close eye on the standings - and he is adamant he’s not contemplating a relegation fight for his team. He has, in fact, set his sights on a place in the top eight.
“I’m not even thinking about relegation,” said Igesund after last week’s loss to Arrows. “My aim is to get into the top eight places. I certainly believe my team is capable. The gap between the teams is not that big, so I’m trying to get my players to start believing they can finish in the top eight. From position nine downwards all the clubs are thinking about getting to 30 points as quickly as they can. We are no different”
Thirty points is usually the mark set by PSL coaches as the total that wards off relegation. For both Ajax and Highlands, the target is still far off - and both will be desperate to get the victory on Wednesday.