CAPE TOWN - For Cape Town City, the heat is, now, really on. The pressure has been there all season – but, with defending PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns lurking a few slots down the standings because of their games in hand, the heat, the weight of expectation, has always been in the distance.
Now, though, the pressure is right in City’s face. On Friday, Sundowns defeated Golden Arrows to rocket to the top of the PSL log for the first time this season – and the message is loud and clear: Anybody who wants to win the PSL title will have to reckon with the champion Pretoria club.
As it stands, Sundowns are on 50 points, followed by City on 49, Wits on 48 and Kaizer Chiefs on 45.
Because of this, there is no room for error when City take on Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 3pm). With Sundowns having made their intentions known, and toppling the Capetonians from the summit, coach Eric Tinkler is fully aware victory is vital.
Followers of this tight, tense PSL title race will also, therefore, have one eye on another crunch fixture tomorrow, when third-placed Wits host Sundowns in Johannesburg. Points will be dropped either way and, whatever happens, it will have an impact as the season hits the final run-in.
Tinkler has impressed on his squad the need to forget last week’s heroics in a 3-2 win over Kaizer Chiefs. He has emphasised that pressure is part and parcel of the package. There’s not long to go until the end of the campaign – and he’s urged them to focus, and sacrifice, to make the most of the opportunity they have given themselves.
“This is the opportunity of a life-time,” said Tinkler. “It may not come around again There are about 30 days left in the season, and they have to make the most of it. They have to focus on the game, always look to keep getting better, and get the results that are needed.
“The players have to be ready now for the next challenge. Maritzburg are a good team, they have their strengths, but we will have to look to exploit their weaknesses.”