While the focus of the latest round of Absa Premiership matches will undoubtedly be on Mamelodi Sundowns who host Bloemfontein Celtic at the Lucas Moripe Stadium keen to remain in the hunt for the championship, there are far much more pressing issues for the other clubs in action.
All of AmaZulu, Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and to a lesser extent Black Aces will be out to collect maximum points to stave off the looming drop to the National First Division (NFD).
But who of them will succeed? Can Usuthu return to winning ways after Kaizer Chiefs ended their good run last weekend or will the Birds fly over the Chilliboys to put some distance between themselves and the bottom spot? Matshelane Mamabolo and Hosea Ramphekwa cast their eyes over the matches.
AMAZULU v POLOKWANE
Princess Magogo Stadium
Last five matches: (most recent match first)
First Round: City 2, AmaZulu 2
Steve Barker said after their loss to Amakhosi that he had actually not “budgeted” to get anything from that clash with the champions-elect when he was first asked to rescue the KZN side. But tonight’s match against a City side renowned for blowing hot and cold is definitely among those the former Pretoria University coach pencilled in as “winnable” and that defeat to Chiefs wouldn’t have changed the view. And they can and should beat Kosta Papic’s side, AmaZulu simply needing to ensure they keep their shape at the back and attack like they have been doing in recent matches. The small problem though is the unavailability of the suspended defensive duo of John Aruwa and Sadate Ouro Akoriko.
Prediction: AmaZulu 2, City 1
CHIPPA UNITED v MOROKA SWALLOWS
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium Chippa: LDLDL
First Round: Swallows 0, Chippa 2
Craig Roslee makes his debut as Swallows coach tonight under no illusions as to the tough task he has taken on. A very ambitious coach, he will want to prove he is one of South Africa’s brightest by leading the Birds on a flight to safety, and only victory at a Chippa outfit also in all sorts of trouble will do tonight. The Chilliboys will also have a new man on the bench in the form of technical director Mich D’Avray and it will be the coach who manages to inspire his team more who will reap rewards.
Prediction: Chippa 0,
BLACK ACES v MARITZBURG UNITED
First round: Maritzburg 0,
With the ‘distraction’ of the Nedbank Cup out of the way, Aces will focus on ensuring their survival and that controversial 1-1 draw with Sundowns in their league match will have them brimming with confidence for Maritzburg’s visit tonight. Jacob Sakala’s team can get to the supposed magical 30-point mark that is generally accepted to guarantee safety from relegation with victory tonight. Mathematically, however, they will still not be safe but the psychological boost a win will have will be massive. And they do have the beating of Steve Komphela’s team although the Team of Choice have chalked up some massive wins in recent weeks.
Prediction: Aces 1,
PLATINUM STARS v SUPESPORT UNITED
Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace
First round: SuperSport 2, Stars 1
Cavin Johnson takes on his former side for the first time since SuperSport decided they were too big a club to allow him to implement his youth policy that will bear dividends later at the expense of immediate success. He will definitely want to put one over them if only to say “stuff you”. But it won’t be easy, with Gordon Igesund having won the Telkom Knockout since replacing Johnson and taken Matsatsantsa to the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup via a 1-0 victory over Golden Arrows to mark three successive wins.
Prediction: Stars 1,
sundowns v Bloem celtic Lucas Moripe Stadium
Last five matches
First round: Celtic 0,
It all points to a Kaizer Chiefs triumph this season but Mamelodi Sundowns refuse to give up. With just a few matches left, opinion suggests a miracle will be needed for the Brazilians to pip Chiefs to the title. Last week Sundowns’ chances were dealt a blow when they got held by Mpuma-langa Black Aces at the Mbombela Stadium and Pitso Mosimanehas admitted that they now rely on favours to catch Amakhosi. But Cuthbert Malajila still has faith that his side can retain the title. “We still believe. We want to win all our remaining games. We are highly motivated. We want nothing but three points,” said Malajila ahead of tonight’s clash against Bloemfontein Celtic. Malajila’s sentiments were echoed by his teammate Denis Onyango, who says the six- time PSL champions will fight till the last game of the season. “For us all the games are the same. We must win every game. The Celtic game is very important because we are fighting for the league. We are still looking forward to pushing Chiefs until the last game of the season,” said Onyango. Celtic, who are fifth on the log, have done relatively well this season. One of their positives is the emergence of striker Lerato Lamola, who has found the net 10 times in the league.
Prediction: Sundowns 2,
Celtic 0 - The Star