Despite dropping points against Polokwane City on Tuesday, Mamelodi Sundowns remain in control of the title race as they prepare to face current leaders Bidvest Wits this weekend, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
The Brazilians currently sit second on the Absa Premiership log, trailing the Clever Boys by just two points. Downs, however, have two games in hand on the 2016-17 champions Wits, and if they pick up the necessary points, the title will be theirs to lose.
As the old sayings go, though, points in the bag are better than games in hand, and Pitso Mosimane will be wary of this as the season enters the business stage where his team will have to balance league and continental commitments in the Caf Champions League.
After the Wits game, the defending champions will face Cape Town City in one of their catch-up games before facing Bloemfontein Celtic, and then the Citizens again in what will be a testing run.
Downs, however, will be full of confidence as they have hit their stride since the turn of the year with some impressive victories, both in the league, which has seen them climb the table, and in the Champions League, which has seen them top group A.
⚽️ We are back in #AbsaPrem action this Saturday after securing our place in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals!
— Bidvest Wits (@BidvestWits) February 20, 2019
Gavin Hunt’s charges, on the other hand, have been the pace-setters from day one this season.
Hunt’s overhaul of the 2016-17 title-winning squad has so far proven successful, as the Clever Boys have consistently performed in this campaign after a torrid defence of the title last season.
Wits may not be playing in continental competitions, but they will have their focus split by the lure of the Nedbank Cup after securing their spot in the quarter-finals earlier this week.
After the Sundowns clash, Wits host Cape Town City, before tricky away trips to AmaZulu and Celtic precede a home clash against Orland Pirates.
Latest #PSL Log:
1. Wits – 37 pts
2. Downs – 35
3. Pirates – 33
4. CT City – 30
5. Celtic – 29
6. SSU – 29
7. Chiefs – 28
8. Polokwane – 28
9. Highlands- 25
10. Arrows – 24
11. AmaZulu – 23
12. Leopards – 20
13. Chippa – 19
14. Baroka – 18
15. FS Stars – 16
16. Maritzburg – 14 pic.twitter.com/0Z43LPBhac
— DiskiStyle (@DiskiStyle) February 20, 2019
The Buccaneers, who sit in third, four points off the top with one game in hand, are also by no means out of the race, but have picked up too many draws since the turn of the year and will need to start picking up three points if they want to stake a claim of their own.
Milutin Sredojevic will also have to find the right balance to be successful in both the league and in the Champions League, which also seems to be a priority for the Soweto giants.
Benni McCarthy’s 4th-placed City side will also feel they are in the equation, and with the upcoming game against Wits and the double header against Sundowns, the Cape side will certainly have a say where the title ends up.
As we all know, the landscape of the title race could and probably will change over the coming weeks, but as things stand, Sundowns remain in pole position.
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
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