Crunch Premiership month

2011-02-01 10:15

 February is known as the month of love, but there will be no love lost in the battle for supremacy in the Absa Premiership, as title contenders square up to each other.

Relegation-haunted clubs will also be fighting for their lives in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) as they engage in crunch fixtures against each other and against the title-chasers.

Wednesday’s full fixture marks the start of the crucial four-week period for the top and bottom-placed clubs.

Topping the midweek eight-match programme is the Moroka Swallows, Mamelodi Sundowns clash and the Ajax Cape Town, Bloemfontein Celtic scrap.

Another game of interest is the six-pointer between Maritzburg United and AmaZulu.

Out of the 46 fixtures set for next month, seven matches will involve clubs that have been consistently nestling inside the top-five bracket – Sundowns, Ajax, Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Santos.

Also on offer next month are the Soweto and Cape derbies, pitting Chiefs against Pirates and Ajax against Santos.

The big fish in the relegation zone, Swallows, will have their bid for survival examined by Sundowns, Chiefs, Celtic and Golden Arrows in a line-up of fixtures that also includes a showdown against Maritzburg on February 12.

The Brazilians are not getting a breather as the toppled log leaders will face Santos and Pirates in nine days.

February should also be the time to gauge how far the relegation candidates would have gone, as Swallows,
Mpumalanga Black Aces and Maritzburg face the stiffest tests yet.

The likes of AmaZulu, Bidvest Wits and Vasco da Gama are also caught in the relegation crossfire.

Statistics gathered from the final log standings in the last five seasons show that all the clubs that were relegated to the National First Division had collected less than 30 points.

Swallows coach Gordon Igesund has set a target of no less than 30 points in the club’s survival bid, a haul that Free State Stars (2005/06), Maritzburg (2006/07), Jomo Cosmos (2007/08), Bay United (2008/09) and Cosmos (2009/10) failed to net when they went down.

Said Igesund: “I reckon 33 points will ensure our survival in the PSL.”

Igesund had hoped to pick up 28 points from the club’s last 17 matches. But last weekend’s 4-0 loss to the visiting
AmaZulu was a shortfall that only ignited more sparks in the battle for survival, with at least four fixtures pitting the drop zone candidates in the next three weeks.

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