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Absa Premiership Preview: Gameweek 21 Preview

 The third and final quarter of the season is upon us and some crucial encounters are on the menu this weekend. Clinton Larsen returns to Golden Arrows with a resurgent Chippa United side, Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns go toe to toe in a massive league title six-pointer and Bloemfontein Celtic face relegation-threatened Free State Stars in a mouth-watering derby. Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs face AmaZulu and Polokwane City respectively. Who will be smiling this weekend? Here’s our predictions.

Standings provided by Sofascore LiveScore

Friday 22 February

Chippa United 16/10 
Draw 19/10 
Golden Arrows 18/10 

Chippa United remain unbeaten under the tutelage of Clinton Larsen with four wins and three draws since joining the side earlier this year. He travels to KZN to face his former side who have tasted defeat only once under Steve Komphela who replaced him. Both teams are still in the Nedbank Cup after managing to get the better of their respective NFD opponents this past weekend. This will be a close match and I foresee it ending in a draw – I’m definitely taking the 19/10!

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Saturday 23 February

Polokwane City 2/1 
Draw 37/20 
Kaizer Chiefs 15/10 

It’s eighth versus seventh here and the difference between the two teams is just one point. The visitors needed extra time to score three goals against third-tier side, The Magic FC, last week and it shall be interesting to see how they approach the game in Polokwane. On the other hand, the hosts were without any Nedbank Cup action this weekend as they crashed out in the Last 32. The last time they played a league game they lost 3-1 to bottom-placed Maritzburg United. Chiefs are slight favourites but their inability to put underdogs to the sword prompts me to back a draw.

Bidvest Wits 17/10 
Draw 19/10 
Mamelodi Sundowns 17/10 

This is a top of the table clash between two sides who have won the last three titles. In terms of their head to head record, Sundowns did the double over Wits last season and the season before they met three times with Wits winning two of those encounters which includes the MTN8 final. The reverse fixture this season ended in a 1-1 draw. This should be another cagey affair which ends in a stalemate.

Orlando Pirates 15/20 
Draw 5/2 
AmaZulu 36/10 

Title-chasing Orlando Pirates will be looking to stay within touching distance of Wits and Sundowns. The Buccaneers are winless in their last five games with four draws and one defeat. Their passing games is good but they need to do more in terms of finishing off their chances with Justin Shonga being the main culprit. The last time AmaZulu played they beat Cape Town City 1-0 despite having lost the services of Emiliano Tade to Sundowns. It shall be interesting to see if newly-signed Talent Chawapiwa has gelled with the team after two weeks of training with the squad. I think Pirates should win here.

SuperSport United 17/20 
Draw 2/1 
Baroka 4/1 

Mxolisi Macuphu scored on his SuperSport debut as they beat Golden Arrows 3-2 and the game’s highlight was Teboho Mokoena’s wonder strike. It was the second time he produced such a cracking effort this season and teams have to be wary of the threat he poses. George Lebese also came on in the second half and showed signs of being a good addition to the squad. Baroka head into this match off the back of four back-to-back draws which prompted coach Wedson Nyirenda to walk out of the press conference after slamming his players for not taking responsibility after their 2-2 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic. Matsatsantsa seem to have turned the corner and they should win against embattled Baroka.

Sunday 24 February

Cape Town City 7/10 
Draw 43/20 
Maritzburg United 5/1 

AmaZulu snapped Cape Town City’s seven-match unbeaten run in the league when they beat them 1-0 a couple of weeks ago but Benni McCarthy’s Citizens responded by beating Highlands Park 3-0 in the Nedbank Cup last week. The Cape Town-based outfit was far from convincing in the first half and they’re to get a result against a relegation-threatened side they need to be consistent. Maritzburg United brought their A-game to beat Polokwane City 3-1 the last time out with Thabiso Kutumela playing a starring role. This is a tricky one but I’ll tip the home side to win.

Black Leopards 18/10 
Draw 18/10 
Highlands Park 7/4 

Black Leopards have lost back-to-back league games 3-0 and followed that up by being eliminated from the Nedbank Cup in a nail-biting penalty shootout by Bidvest Wits. All this came after Dylan Kerr was handed the PSL Coach of the Month award for December/January. They played well against Wits but luck wasn’t on their side. Their opponents, Highlands Park, are the most draw-laden team with 50% of their 20 games ending in stalemates. This fixture has a draw written all over it.

Bloemfontein Celtic 8/10 
Draw 22/10 
Free State Stars 15/4 

This is a derby game between two teams with contrasting fortunes. Bloemfontein Celtic are fifth on the log with only one defeat in their last five league games. There are still in the Nedbank Cup after knocking Richards Bay out, courtesy of a 1-0 victory. On the other hand, Free State Stars lost six and won one of their last seven league games. I’d be surprised if Celtic fail to record a comfortable victory here.

TREBLE @ 5/1
SuperSport Win 17/20
Pirates Win 15/20
Celtic Win 8/10

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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