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South African PSL Preview

Baroka sit top of the PSL standings after earning a 2-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs
Baroka, who survived relegation last season via promotion/relegation play-offs, top the PSL standings
Round eight of the PSL 2017/18 season is upon us, and amazingly, Baroka, who only survived relegation last season via promotion/relegation play-offs, top the standings after earning a 2-1 victory against Kaizer Chiefs. Speaking of Amakhosi, the pick of this round’s matches sees them go-head-to head with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Chippa United are still in search of the elusive first win under the tutelage of Teboho Moloi who stepped in to take over the coaching reigns after the sacking of Dan Malesela. This time, they host high-flying Maritzburg United. Will they get it? Here are our predictions for all the domestic league matches…

Tuesday 17 October

17/20 Cape Town City | Draw 22/10 | Bloemfontein Celtic 33/10 (19:30)

The hosts also go into this clash off the back of the MTN8 final which might have an impact on it. Benni McCarthy’s charges lie third on the log with 12 points after winning four and losing two of their opening six games. Underperforming Shu-aib Walters has been dropped and Sage Stephens has grabbed the opportunity with both hands in between the sticks. Bloem Celtic, who lie seventh on the standings, are one of the teams that have added to Bidvest Wits’ woes, downing them 1-0 the last time out. The team hasn’t really played enterprising football under Veselin Jelusic who was extensively talked up prior to his appointment. I foresee Cape Town City collecting maximum points on home soil.

9/10 Mamelodi Sundowns | 22/10 | Kaizer Chiefs 3/1 (19:30)

Sundowns have crashed out of the CAF Champions League and they are now fully focused on the domestic league. They are three games off the pace, but they’re still a notch above Kaizer Chiefs on goal difference. The Brazilians’ trio of Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi all scored in Bafana Bafana’s 3-1 win over Burkina Faso. The last time Kaizer Chiefs played, the fans chanted “Steve must go”, calling for coach Steve Komphela’s head after the match in which they lost 2-1 to Baroka FC. They had a chance to regroup and recover over the FIFA international break and they won the glorified friendly called Macufe Cup, beating Bloemfontein Celtic 4-2. My money is on Sundowns.

Wednesday 18 October

9/10 AmaZulu | 22/10 | Polokwane City 3/1 (19:30)

AmaZulu are looking to break into the top eight as they are a whisker away. They showed a great fighting spirit in their most recent match, coming back from 1-0 down to hold bottom-placed Platinum Stars to a 1-1 draw. Before then, they had downed Wits 3-0 in a highly emotive match. After finishing last season strongly, Polokwane City have really plummeted this season, losing five of their opening seven matches. It is quite clear that Bernard Molekwa was riding on Luc Eymael’s energy and he ran out of ideas in the new season. There’s talk of Dan Malesela being roped in to rescue the situation. AmaZulu are the favourites and I think they will win.

12/10 Baroka FC | 21/10 | Golden Arrows 23/10 (19:30)

Baroka FC have been in scintillating form this season, an absolute contrast of the side that was fighting to survive relegation in the previous campaign. They top the standings with 15 points out of a possible 21. Their 2-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs from 1-0 behind was absolutely impressive. New signing, Siphelele Ntshangase, is combining well with the likes of Gift Motupa and Lewis Macha. What makes this a top of the table clash is the fact that Arrows are second on the log and they slipped up by playing to two consecutive draws, a goalless stalemate with Kaizer Chiefs and a 1-1 draw with Chippa United. With both teams having scored 11 and conceded five goals so far, a win for Arrows would see them reclaim top spot on goal difference. I’m backing a draw.

13/10 Chippa United | 21/10 | Maritzburg United 21/10 (19:30)

Chippa United have had a poor start to the season, winning just one of their opening seven fixtures. They go into this fixture off the back of four consecutive draws as newly-appointed Teboho Moloi is battling to get his first win. Maritzburg United, who started the season like a house on fire, at some point occupying the top spot, have now lost two matches on the bounce. The results may suggest they’ve run out of gas but from what I’ve seen it’s all down to failure to convert their chances as their performances have been exceptional. I foresee The Team of Choice returning to winning ways.

11/10 Free State Stars | 21/10 | Ajax Cape Town 5/2 (19:30)

Free State Stars are a team that’s on the cusp of resurgence with two back to back victories turning the whole complexion of their season. The six valuable points have helped them climb out of the relegation zone and they will look to maintain the momentum against an underperforming side. Ajax have had a poor start to their season, losing three of their first six matches, only winning one. They were totally outclassed in the recent match, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of their crosstown rivals, Cape Town City. I think Free State Stars stand a good chance to triumph.

9/20 Orlando Pirates | 28/10 | Platinum Stars 13/2 (19:30)

Orlando Pirates started the season well, grinding out results despite not so convincing performances, but they’ve only managed to collect one out of six possible points in their last two games. Lyle Foster (17) has been promoted to the senior team and he has shown some glimpses of brilliance and the underwhelming Thamsanqa Gabuza completed a brace at the death to help his team secure a 2-2 draw in their recent match against Polokwane City. Platinum Stars are the morning relegation candidates and they remain winless with only two points collected after seven games. This is an ideal opportunity for Pirates to return to winning ways and I think it’s going to happen.

TREBLE @ 4/1
Cape Town City Win 17/20
Sundowns Win 9/10
Pirates Win 9/20

Written by Benedict Ngwenya