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Maritzburg, Arrows the kingmakers in PSL title race

PSL
DURBAN - The PSL title and top-eight races enter the penultimate round on Wednesday night with KZN sides Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United having an influence on both.

Having pretty much knocked Cape Town City out of contention for league honours earlier this month, Maritzburg could shape the destiny of Mamelodi Sundowns when they face the defending champions in Pretoria.

Arrows, meanwhile, can scupper City’s chances of finishing third, or better, if they take a point off the Citizens in the Mother City.

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Golden Arrow's Lerato Lamola heads the ball away against Kaizer Chiers. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mathematically, the Cape side are still in the title race, although they would need log leaders Wits and Sundowns to falter. Third place is a more realistic target for them, though. All the games kick off at 7.30pm, with Wits hosting Polokwane City in the main clash. 

For Arrows and Maritzburg the championship is a side event. They are in a battle to finish in the top eight and qualify for the MTN8, the first Cup competition next season. Arrows are ninth with 35 points, a point behind the Team of Choice in seventh, with Ajax Cape Town sandwiched between the KwaZulu-Natal rivals.

The mid-table battle involves six teams, from sixth-placed Polokwane to Platinum Stars in 11th position. In all likelihood, Polokwane will remain in the top half, and Platinum a long shot to squeeze in.

Maritzburg head to Pretoria without one of their star performers, Kwanda Mngonyama, who coincidentally joined from the Brazilians. He is suspended after being red carded in their last outing, a draw against Platinum. Although Maritzburg interim coach Fadlu Davids lamented the unavailability of his utility defensive player, he's looking forward to the challenge of stopping Sundowns.

“This will require a whole new approach because Sundowns will be coming out for goals. We can’t go out there with a defensive concept because that will be asking for trouble,” said Davids.

One win from their last four league outings saw Sundowns overtaken by Wits, who enjoy a two-point lead. If the Brazilians falter again, it might see the end of their title race. It might also be enough for Maritzburg to retain their ranking, given that Ajax or Orlando Pirates will drop points when they face off tonight.

Maritzburg are in decent shape, with one defeat in their last five assignments. However, they beat Sundowns only four times in 22 meetings, the last being in 2012. Arrows’ task is equally tricky. They boast one of the worst defensive records in the league and are up against a side that is among the top scorers. This should make it a busy night for the goalkeepers at Athlone Stadium.

The Durban franchise are without veteran midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi, who is injured.

The Mercury

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