JOHANNESBURG – What would have been an encounter hyped as a potential title decider at this stage of the PSL campaign is tonight seen as a meeting between also-rans.
Wits, the struggling reigning champions who are bottom of the standings after 15 matches, host SuperSport United, a team that has not won any of their previous six games.
A humdinger of a fixture on any given day, but the 7.30pm kickoff is a classic example of quite an abnormal campaign this year.
There was plenty that got these two teams going at the start of the season.
Wits were champions and looked like they would challenge again as they beefed up their already impressive squad by adding veteran Steven Pienaar, his protege Daylon Claasen, young Kobamelo Kodisang and a loan spell for Egypt’s World Cup-bound striker Amr Gamal.
SuperSport had a new coach in Eric Tinkler, and managed to hold on to talisman Jeremy Brockie, and were still in the chase for a continental trophy.
It’s all gone a little pear-shaped, and Wits are worse off.
The Clever Boys have lost eight of their 15 league matches and are slipping further into the relegation quagmire, with their efforts to freshen things up ahead of the second half of the season getting off to the worst possible start when they were narrowly beaten by Free State Stars last Friday night.
Gavin Hunt, their beleaguered 53-year-old coach, continues to receive backing from management, who have gone as far as signing four new players to try and turn the corner - and 35-year-old Pienaar, who just never got going having returned to South Africa after playing for 16 years in Europe’s top leagues, has been released from his contract.
Talk about a downward spiral.
SuperSport aren’t in complete disarray, although no wins in seven matches after tonight would suggest some sort of a crisis. Tinkler, 47, has defended their poor run by arguing that the team is undergoing a transition with the blooding in of young players to a team that is laden with experienced campaigners. As soon as they understand how he wants them to contribute, SuperSport will be hard to beat, the coach said.
Both Wits and Matsatsantsa have looked impressive on the ball and aren’t necessarily struggling to create chances.
Hunt has also suggested luck hasn’t been on their side, and has looked to the well-travelled 31-year-old Lehlohonolo Majoro to solve the goal-scoring problems.
Goals have also dried up for SuperSport and that is partly because Brockie hasn’t hit the back of the net in any domestic competition since October. He looked a determined player against Kaizer Chiefs in their goalless draw at the weekend, but he still hasn’t put an end to his goal-scoring drought.
Tonight’s league fixture has the potential to produce fireworks, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t much to write home about.
Their season has been underwhelming so far.