AmaZulu eye Champions League, Orlando Pirates need a place in Africa to restore pride
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DURBAN - The Premiership title race is probably over, barring a dramatic decline in form from table toppers Mamelodi Sundowns.
Masandawana have a seven-point advantage at the top of the table and with their experience and class, it will be the biggest upset in PSL history if they had to lose the league title from the position that they are currently in.
Nevertheless, the battle for second and third places, as well as the relegation battle, will now start to intensify.
Second place, currently occupied by AmaZulu, assures a team of entry into next season’s CAF Champions League, which provides teams with the chance to test themselves against the top teams in Africa while also bringing in a welcome financial injection.
Ambitious AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy, who has done wonders in his man-management at Usuthu this season, will be looking for another win as his side prepare to host 10th-placed Baroka FC at the King Zwelethini Stadium tomorrow.
Although the clash is a home one for AmaZulu, it sees them playing away from Jonsson Kings Park, which they have used for the majority of their home games this season.
Usuthu, who have won eight out of their last nine league games, are excited about the prospect of Champions League football next season as club chairman Sandile Zungu and McCarthy indicated during a media conference in Durban last week.
Even though Sundowns will probably soon confirm themselves as league champions yet again, a second place finish will be a good statement for intent from McCarthy ahead of a potential league challenge next season.
Meanwhile, under pressure Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer can look to restore some pride for Pirates as they play away against Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium tomorrow.
With the squad that they have, Pirates would have been hoping to challenge for the league and certainly did look the part after having won the MTN8 title earlier this season.
However, the Sea Robbers have been inconsistent in the league and have not really been a threat to Sundowns.
Amid the inconsistency of the club in terms of performances, it is understandable that some fans do feel that Zinnbauer is not the right man to lead the club going forward and feel that a coaching change may be needed in order to bring the club back to their glory days.
A good run of form for Pirates between now and the end of the season can help Zinnbauer restore the fans’ confidence in him.
Pirates are currently fourth in the league with 42 points after 25 games and are just a point behind third-placed Golden Arrows, who occupy the position that qualifies a team to play in next season’s CAF Confederation Cup.
As they are eight points behind AmaZulu, a second place finish for Pirates will be very challenging, though third place is certainly something that they are capable of.