Brazilians inch closer

2014-05-06 00:00

FOURTEEN of the PSL’s 16 teams are in action tonight and by 9.30 pm Mamelodi Sundowns could well be crowned champions for the first time in seven years.

Pitso Mosimane’s charges, who last won the league title in the 2006/7 season, are four points ahead of second-placed Kaizer Chiefs with just two rounds of fixtures remaining, and victory over SuperSport United in tonight’s Pretoria derby will be enough to win the championship. Chiefs are away to the University of Pretoria.

Mosimane’s Sundowns were fancied by many at the start of the season, and their free flowing style of play — aided by a squad of big, talented names — has seen no fewer than 47 goals scored this season, more than by any other side in the league.

“It’s one of those games where it’s going to be very emotional because we know the importance of it,” Sundowns midfielder Teko Modise told Sapa yesterday. “We know what can happen if we win it or what can happen if we lose it. We’re just one game away from realising our dream and hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”

But it is not only at the top of the table where there will be hearts in mouths this evening.

Closer to home, Durban’s Golden Arrows will almost certainly be relegated tonight if they do not beat provincial rivals AmaZulu in a KZN derby at Moses Mabhida Stadium. A draw might keep them alive mathematically if Free State Stars lose at home to Orlando Pirates, but defeat for Shaun Bartlett’s Arrows would guarantee them a spot in the National First Division next season.

It has been a woeful campaign for Arrows, with Bartlett now the third manager to take the reins this season.

Arrows, Stars, Polokwane City and the once mighty Moroka Swallows are the four teams who all face the prospect of relegation this season.

For AmaZulu, a top eight finish is the aim as they eye maximum points from their date with Arrows.

Further inland, Maritzburg United must recover from their Nedbank Cup semi-final heartache when they travel to Wits, who they would have met in the cup final had they upset the odds to defeat Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday.

It is a difficult situation for the Team of Choice. With a top-eight finish unlikely and relegation no longer a threat, tonight’s is a match that appears largely insignificant.

But coach Steve Komphela has already started to cast his eye towards building for next season. The midfield trio of ­Nhlanhla Vilakazi, Thami Mkhize and Ashley Hartog that finished Saturday’s game against Pirates have excited the boss, and he hinted that they would play together over the next two matches as United plan for life without captain and holding midfielder Michael Morton.

Asked whether or not it would be difficult to motivate his charges tonight after Saturday’s gutting defeat, Komphela was not concerned.

“Football is a funny business,” he said. “The guys are professionals and they will play to win. It is about looking forward now.”

United travel to Johannesburg without injured speedster Orlando Smeekes, who continues to recover from the hamstring injury he picked up against Pirates.

Premiership fixtures tonight

Mamelodi Sundowns v SuperSport United (Loftus Versfeld), University of Pretoria v Kaizer Chiefs (Mbombela Stadium), AmaZulu v Golden Arrows (Moses Mabhida Stadium), Free State Stars v Orlando Pirates (Charles Mopeli Stadium), Bloemfontein Celtic v Ajax Cape Town (Free State Stadium), Polokwane City v Moroka Swallows (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium), Wits v Maritzburg United (Bidvest Stadium).

All matches kick off at 7.30 pm.

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