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Do easier run-ins equate to log points?

PSL
JOHANNESBURG - Both Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane were reluctant to give a points projection on what’s turning out to be a tightly-contested Absa Premiership title race, instead the Bidvest Wits coach and his Mamelodi Sundowns counterpart were caught up in mind games as to who has the more difficult run-in over the remaining five matches.

Hunt argued his predictions last year as to how many points it would take to win the championship were off the mark and he wasn’t prepared to try again, while Mosimane said it had become impossible to forecast.

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This was after Wits beat Sundowns 1-0 at Bidvest Stadium on Monday night to go top of the table, with only a point separating the two sides.

Hunt was cagey about whether they would go all the way, citing tough matches against Orlando Pirates on Thursday night at the same venue and Kaizer Chiefs in their final league fixture on May 27. Mosimane countered by saying run-ins are irrelevant because it’s about the points.

“Who had the Maritzburg United game as a tough one for Cape Town City? But they lost (1-0 on Monday at the Harry Gwala Stadium) even though that was described as an easy match for them after they beat us and Chiefs,” the Sundowns coach explained.

“I don’t know, but football is not about who has an easier run-in. It’s about who has the points at the end of the day when the final whistle is blown.”

After Pirates on Thusrday night, Wits host a buoyant Maritzburg before travelling to hoodoo side Free State Stars in Bethlehem, with Polokwane City and Chiefs scheduled as their final two league games. Sundowns are up against Platinum Stars on Thursday, Pirates on Sunday, then Baroka FC, with Maritzburg and Highlands Park at the tail end of their domestic fixture list.

“We no doubt have the hardest run-in out of Cape Town City and Sundowns. I can’t see any of them losing another game,” Hunt said.

“It’s going to be tough against Pirates, who have had a couple of days off and will have a fresh team and a new approach. We will have to change the team because we are not only losing players through injury, but through red cards as well. Our squad has also taken strain with all the travelling playing CAF games.

“Ideally, you want a guy like Daine Klate (red carded on Monday) available against Pirates.

“But we have (Gabadinho) Mhango and Phakamani (Mahlambi) who haven’t played the last two games. There’s all the hype around them, let's see.”

Interestingly, Mosimane added that he’d long accepted a defeat away at Wits because they play like English Premier League club Stoke City, who are often praised for being hard to beat in their own backyard by stifling sides above them on the table while playing conservative football.

“Have you been to Stoke? This is what you get, my friend,” said Mosimane.

“For us to come here and win, we would have had to be at our best.

“This is a game you let go because when you look at the fixtures at the beginning of the season, you budget for a loss here all the time. But let's see what happens. They have Chiefs in their last game and we have Highlands Park, maybe we don’t need favours.”

The Star

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