Pitso Mosimane and Ernst Middendorp on personal crusades in PSL title race
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DURBAN - Following the announcement of the resumption of professional football action, the stage is now set for Pitso Mosimane and Ernst Middendorp to rekindle their rivalry for supremacy in the Absa Premiership.
Chiefs coach Middendorp and his troops are at the summit of the log with 48 points after 22 games, while Mosimane is four points with defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Brazilians have amassed 44 points after 21 games.
The two coaches have not pulled back whenever asked to give their views on the battle for the title this season.
Never short on sarcasm, Mosimane has consistently labelled the Glamour Boys as the beneficiaries of poor refereeing decisions. He’s also taken a swipe at the Soweto giants, suggesting a lack of ambition for their non-participation in continental competitions.
At one point last year the two coaches clashed in an argument on a TV sports show ahead of their Shell Helix Cup pre-season match and Middendorp’s side went on to trounce Sundowns 4-2.
In that match, Chiefs fielded their strongest line-up, while Sundowns opted to go with fringe players.
When they met in the league, it was the Brazilians who reigned supreme, winning 2-0.
But the battle is not yet over. It is reaching boiling point now. If Sundowns can win their game in hand, they will close the gap to a single point. Mind you, they still have to battle against each other in what could turn out to be the league decider.
The duo are in desperate need of the league title for different reasons.
Middendorp is chasing his maiden league triumph in South Africa. The league title has eluded him for the past 16 years.
He is now eight games away from ending that drought, but Mosimane will not make it easy for Amakhosi. The Kagiso-born mentor knows what it will mean for him to win the league.
He is currently tied with the late Ted Dumitru, Gavin Hunt and Gordon Igesund on four league titles.
Winning another title will make him the most successful coach in the Premier Soccer League era.
It will be a hat-trick of titles for Sundowns as well.
SuperSport United were the last team to achieve that feat under the tutelage of Hunt before the 2010 World Cup.
It will also be the 10th league crown for Sundowns in the PSL era.
Mosimane has set plenty of records in his tenure at Sundowns and will want to add to his list of accomplishments.
Sundowns still stand a great chance to also win a treble this season as they are also in the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup - with the Telkom Cup already in the trophy cabinet.
On the other hand, Chiefs haven’t won a trophy in five years and there is massive pressure from their fans to regain their reputation.
Will it be a hat-trick of titles for Sundowns? Can Middendorp win his maiden league triumph? Come September, we will have all the answers.