JOHANNESBURG – Both Chiefs and Pirates will have seven matches remaining post today’s Soweto Derby. Even though all these games offer three points, the level of difficulty, especially so late into the season and adding the title run-in to the mix, just isn’t the same.
We pick the tough and winnable ones - on paper at least.
Pirates’ next fixtures
Arrows (A) - winnable
Celtic (H) - winnable
The temptation to see this as another match under the winnable column is there. But that would be disregarding the quality in that Matsatsantsa side. And who knows, they might have a new coach by then given how horribly things have been going with Eric Tinkler. If not, they will be desperate to avoid relegation.
AmaZulu (A) - winnable
The reigning champions are determined to have a say in who they surrender their title to, so the Buccaneers could have their hands full. And the Clever Boys are improving too following a horror start, which meant they were ruled out as title contenders by Christmas.
Cape Town City (A)
Benni McCarthy’s men are still in with a title shout - mathematically speaking. But the teams above them, especially leaders Sundowns, would have to capitulate for them to stand a chance. McCarthy will still want to finish as high as possible in his first season as a top flight coach.
Free State Stars (H)
Ea Lla Koto shocked Pirates in the corresponding fixture late last year at Goble Park and you can’t rule out the fact that they could do it again. Given they are fifth on the log and their impressive results against Sundowns, SuperSport and Wits as well this season, Stars are no pushovers.
Chiefs’ next fixtures
AmaZulu (H) - winnable
Free State Stars (A)
Amakhosi haven’t always enjoyed playing at Goble Park, and the truth is nobody does. The Bethlehem outfit are still dark horses in the championship chase and their fixtures against both Soweto giants will push them further up the table if they win them. Stars want to finish in the top eight and to do that they have to treat their last few remaining matches as cup finals.
Chiefs are currently enjoying a 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and Chippa were the last team to beat them in December. Steve Komphela hasn’t always found it easy against the Chilli Boys.
Platinum Stars (H) - winnable
Arrows (A) - winnable
Tricky match this against a team growing in confidence and looking to make it a habit to finish in the top eight. With Fadlu Davids being touted as one of the candidates for Coach of the Season, his tactics will be in full display again to plot the downfall of a Chiefs side still looking for their first trophy under Komphela in nearly three years.
Say Chiefs maintain their unbeaten run and take the championship race right down to the wire - the final day of the campaign, then this game could determine who wins the title and who is relegated. Ajax are beginning to pull away from the automatic relegation spot, but the fight to avoid the drop could also roll over to the final day of the season. What a match this would be.