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South African PSL Preview

ABSA Premiership fixtures were very appalling last week with a bulk of matches ending in stalemates.
ABSA Premiership fixtures were very appalling last week with a bulk of matches ending in stalemates.
PSL fixtures were very appalling last week with a bulk of matches ending in draws, the only team that managed to get all three points last weekend was Orlando Pirates, who then climbed to second place. Baroka, who are winless in five matches, still top the standings and the defending champions, Bidvest Wits, uncharacteristically anchor the table. The gap between them and top-placed Baroka is 10 points, meaning The Clever Boys can still challenge for the title.

The cautious approach by almost every single team in the league has prompted criticism from fans and pundits who have slammed coaches for playing not to lose instead of playing to win. Do we have more draws coming up? Here are our thoughts...

Tuesday 5 December

1/1 Cape Town City FC | Draw 21/10 | Maritzburg United 5/2 (19:30)

Cape Town City have registered only one win over their last five matches. Last week, they came back from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 draw against Golden Arrows. The return of last season’s Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament, Aubrey Ngoma, from injury has given the team a much-needed boost and his performance in that game was unbelievable. Striker, Victor Obinna, has also resumed training after recovering. Maritzburg United haven’t scored in the last eight matches across all competitions and they currently lie 11th on the log. This will be a tough test away from home against a side that has title ambitions. Get on City to collect maximum points at home.

13/20 Mamelodi Sundowns | 23/10 | Baroka FC 4/1 (19:30)

Sundowns are unbeaten in the last three matches with two of those ending in victories. Danger man, Khama Billiat, was in fine form against Bidvest Wits, bagging a brace to give his side a much-needed victory. The Brazilians are three points off the pace with three games in hand. The log leaders, Baroka, are winless in the last five games and they have only collected four out of a possible 15 points. Their stay atop the standings can be attributed to teams below them under-performing. I say Sundowns edge this one.

31/20 Orlando Pirates | 18/10 | SuperSport United 18/10 (19:30)

The mighty Buccaneers find themselves in second place after their first win in seven matches. The Buccaneers have been creating chances but their poor finishing lets them down. Thabo Qalinge, one of the best performers this season, is the main culprit. Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic seems to still be looking for a winning combination, and last week he gave Luvuyo Memela a chance and he took the match by the scruff of its neck, helping Bucs win 1-0 against Bloemfontein Celtic. Matsatsantsa are nine points off the pace, but they have five games in hand, at the time of writing, due to their CAF Confederations Cup involvement. If you do the math, you can see that they can potentially top the standings by a mile. SuperSport are unbeaten in the last seven meetings with Pirates, including the Buccaneers’ heaviest ever defeat, the 6-1 humiliation and the 4-1 drubbing in the Nedbank Cup final. I’m backing SuperSport to edge this one.

Wednesday 6 December

12/10 AmaZulu | 19/10 | Bloemfontein Celtic 23/10 (19:30)

AmaZulu head into this one off the back of three consecutive draws which followed a credible, controversial win over Mamelodi Sundowns. Their big match temperament has seen them holding Kaizer Chiefs to a goalless draw and defeating Bidvest Wits 3-1. This will be another big test against a side that would have just played the Telkom Knockout final. Bloemfontein Celtic had a great October, which has seen them win four games in a row and climbing to fourth place which earned Veselin Jelusic the Coach of the month award. They followed that up by reaching the Telkom Knockout final but they failed to win the next two matches afterwards which I think is a result of having one eye on the final. King Zwelithini Stadium is a tough place to go and at least get a point this season, but I foresee Jelusic’s men managing to earn a draw.

13/10 Bidvest Wits | 37/20 | Ajax Cape Town 21/10 (19:30)

Wits are having a shambolic start to the season. They are rooted to the foot of the table with nine points in 11 matches which is a horrendous record by the defending champions. They have only won two league games so far this season. The Telkom Knockout result this weekend might have a psychological impact on them. Stanley Menzo’s men are playing like a relegation-threatened team and their 14th placement is consistent with their performances. They’ve only won two of their opening 12 matches and they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by AmaZulu last week. This is a tricky one and I’m expecting Wits to win and condemn Ajax to the relegation zone.

2/1 Chippa United | 37/20 | Kaizer Chiefs 14/10 (19:30)

Chippa United remain undefeated in the league since Teboho Moloi took over the coaching reigns. They come into this one with a recent record of seven draws and three wins. Their only defeat under him was against Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout and the things he said about them always winning games unfairly since his time as a player are a source of intrigue and make this encounter a grudge match. Kaizer Chiefs are their usual hot and cold selves under Steve Komphela and they are winless over their last three matches. After crashing out of the Telkom Knockout via a 1-0 defeat to Wits, they played two back-to-back draws against AmaZulu and Free State Stars. The match is likely to end in a draw.

14/10 Free State Stars | 37/20 | Golden Arrows 2/1 (19:30)

Free State Stars held Kaizer Chiefs to a goalless draw in KwaZulu-Natal last week and they are winless in the last five games – typical PSL side. They lie 10th on the log and the result can see them being among the title contenders or relegation candidate. Arrows played a game of two halves last week and their scintillating performances in the opening stanza and first part of the second half saw them lead Cape Town City 2-0, but they dropped two points from that comfortable position as the Citizens came back and equalised. Having occupied the top spot in the first couple of weeks, they now find themselves in third place after seven winless matches. However, I’m tipping Arrows to record a crucial away victory.

1/1 Polokwane City | 21/10 | Platinum Stars 5/2 (19:30)

Polokwane City have 11 points in 11 outings which is an average of one point per game. That form is only enough to avoid relegation. I think the main cause is a poor start to the season and they have turned the corner now with a recent record of one defeat in the last eight games. Platinum Stars are in the relegation zone with one game won so far this season. Last week, they were involved in a slow-paced game with table-topping Baroka which, however, ended in a 2-2 draw with Baroka scoring cracking goals from range against a defensively organised Dikwena on the day. I think Roger De Sa has reverted to defensive and counter attacking tactics and I foresee him picking up his second win of the campaign.

TREBLE @ 8/1
Cape Town City Win 1/1
Mamelodi Sundowns Win 13/20
SuperSport United Win 18/10

Written by Benedict Ngwenya