League title race hots up

2014-03-30 14:01

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Anticipated clash between Chiefs and Sundowns will determine league’s destiny, writes Timothy Molobi.

Whatever happens in the lead-up to Saturday, the Kaizer Chiefs vs Mamelodi Sundowns clash will determine whether the league title remains in Naturena or the PSL becomes the “Pretoria Soccer League”.

Second-placed Sundowns will have the golden opportunity to draw level on points with Chiefs today should they beat University of Pretoria at Loftus Versfeld.

Chiefs will have two games in hand, one against relegation-haunted Golden Arrows, who they host on Wednesday, with their next game being the top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

Should Chiefs get nothing out of the two fixtures, the title race will be thrown wide open.

It could be more difficult for the defending champions, especially with their CAF continental duties yet to be taken care of.

But it is the return of key players that should make the race even more interesting.

Chiefs are expected to welcome back inspirational goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune after missing the team’s past seven games.

He could make his return to the team on Wednesday against Arrows, which should sharpen him ahead of their crucial encounter with Sundowns.

The Brazilians have already benefited enormously from the return of Lebohang Mokoena, who has capped his return with two stunning goals.

Mokoena missed almost 18 months of action with a hip injury but his performance points to a full recovery.

Sundowns could also welcome back Khama Billiat, who has been out of the reckoning for several weeks due to a foot injury.

Billiat was supposed to make a comeback against Platinum Stars midweek but failed a late fitness test.

Orlando Pirates might be far off the pace but the return of Rooi Mahamutsa has already borne fruit for them.

The defender marked his return from a shoulder injury with a man of the match performance against Santos in their Nedbank Cup last-16 match last weekend.

Pirates have also been bolstered by the recovery of defender Siyabonga Sangweni, who had an ankle injury that sidelined him since November.

Match days

Absa Premiership fixtures

TODAY: Mamelodi Sundowns vs University of Pretoria (Loftus Versfeld, 3.30pm);

Bloemfontein Celtic vs AmaZulu (Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium, 3.30pm)

TUESDAY: Platinum Stars vs Moroka Swallows (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 7.30pm)

WEDNESDAY: Kaizer Chiefs vs Golden Arrows (FNB Stadium, 7.30pm); Orlando Pirates vs Mpumalanga Black Aces (Orlando Stadium, 7.30pm); SuperSport United vs Maritzburg United (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 7.30pm)

FRIDAY: Moroka Swallows vs Ajax Cape Town (Dobsonville, 8pm)

SATURDAY: SuperSport United vs Orlando Pirates (Lucas Moripe Stadium, 3pm); Black Aces vs Bidvest Wits (Mbombela Stadium, 3pm); University of Pretoria vs Polokwane City (Tuks Stadium, 6pm); AmaZulu vs Free State Stars (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 6pm); Kaizer Chiefs vs Mamelodi

Sundowns (FNB Stadium, 8.15pm)

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