Who’s your money on?

2012-04-14 18:58

The original Soweto derby between Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates has for a while been just another league fixture.

But next week’s Absa Premiership clash between Soweto’s oldest football clubs is different.

For once Swallows are challenging for league honours following years of indifferent results and fighting the dreaded relegation axe.

On the other hand, Pirates, who go into this game perched second on the log just above Swallows, are on the verge of defending the league title they won last season.

Last season, the two clubs fought it out in the MTN 8 Cup final in Durban where Pirates emerged victorious.

But even that game was the first cup final featuring the two since 1980.

The Wednesday match at Dobsonville Stadium should be a mouth-watering affair and its result will have a bearing on the sides above and below them.

This Soweto Derby, the longest continuous-ly played fixture in South African football, will not totally eliminate the loser but will make the climb ever steeper.

At worst, it could deal the loser a severe psychological blow. At best, it will make the loser double their efforts for the remainder of the season.

Sundowns stand to gain the most if Pirates – with whom they are level on points but have a better goal difference – falter.

Kaizer Chiefs stand to win the most, regardless of how their Soweto neighbours fare.

If Pirates drop points, and all other things remain equal, the Brazilians will go into the epic clash with Chiefs early next month knowing that all they need to do is avoid a loss.

Sundowns’ huge goal difference of plus 10 is as good as an extra point.

Leaders Mamelodi Sundowns can afford no more mistakes or to throw away points. They collected a meagre two in eight matches, dropping 12 points in the process.

Although Sundowns have not lost since going down to Chiefs in December, Johan Neeskens’s men know the importance of collecting maximum points if they are to be crowned champions.

Of the six league games that Sundowns have left to play, four are at home to Platinum Stars, Santos, SuperSport United and Free State Stars.

But the game which could yet prove to be the title decider is the away match against rivals Chiefs on May 2 – if Sundowns slip up again before then.

This season’s surprise package, Free State Stars, hold the key to the eventual champions as they still have a date with two title contenders – Sundowns and Chiefs.

Despite being eight points adrift of the leaders, Steve Komphela’s side cannot be dismissed as no-hopers. They could still spring a surprise.

Their striker, Edward Manqele, has been a revelation this season. He is the league’s second top scorer on 11 goals, trailing Siyabonga Nomvethe by a single strike.

It’s equally interesting at the bottom, where Jomo Cosmos are fighting for survival.

With 16 points to show for their efforts this season, the writing is already on the wall for Jomo Sono’s side to make a u-turn to the National First Division, confirming their label as a yo-yo team.

Another side in danger of going down is Santos.

The Cape Town side has found the going tough this season. Not even the removal of Bobbie Solomons as head coach helped.

Duncan Crowie has equally failed to steer the ship into calmer waters, with his only victory being against Pirates.

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