Absa Premiership

Days of destiny as PSL reaches intriguing climax

Mamelodi Sundowns (TEAMtalk)
Mamelodi Sundowns (TEAMtalk)

Cape Town - Call them "Days of Destiny", with the two closing programmes of matches in the Premier League hardly able to contain more intrigue and significance were they compiled at this juncture instead of early in the season

Before the composite list of matches for Wednesday and again on Saturday, May 27, involving all the teams in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the season is approaching a fascinating climax in an atmosphere of widespread urgency and uncertainty.

Right now, as many as an unprecedented 14 of the 16 teams remain involved in either the prestigious title race, "Top Eight" qualification for the opening tournament of the 2017/18 season or the mortifying prospect of relegation - with only Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United exempt because they are assured of top eight qualification, but have no chance of finishing as champions.

And the triple conundrum will remain intact unless Bidvest Wits beat Polokwane City in a home match on Wednesday and clinch their first-ever major league championship should the defending champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, either lose or draw a veritable must-win encounter against Maritzburg United.

Should Wits, currently with a two-point advantage at the head of the  table, and Sundowns both win their penultimate games, the PSL title will only be decided after in these two contenders’ final encounters against Kaizer Chiefs and Highlands Park respectively on May 27.

And, adding to the uncertainty surrounding the knife-edge permutations, is the fact that if Wits and Sundowns should end up level on points, it is The Brazilians who will almost certainly retain their title on goal difference.

Sundowns and Highlands could play their fateful final fixture at the Mukholong Stadium in Tembisa on May 27 in the ironic situation whereby Sundowns require a win or a draw to remain champions and Highlands need a win or a draw to avoid relegation.

This scenario, of course, could change dramatically after this Wednesday's matches, but with the plot thickening like an ingenious Agatha Christie mystery.

The six teams right now vying for three outstanding "Top Eight" positions are Polokwane City (6th in the log with 40 points); Maritzburg United (7th with 36 points); Ajax Cape Town (8th with 35 points); Golden Arrows (9th with 35 points) and long shot prospects Orlando Pirates (10th with 32 points) and Platinum Stars (11th with 31 points)

In the relegation zone, from which the 16th-placed side will automatically go down to the National First Division and the second-bottom side will participate in a promotion-relegation play-off with the second and third-placed teams in the NFD, are Bloemfontein Celtic (12th on the log with 27 points: Free State Stars (13th with 26 points); Highlands Park (14th with 25 points); Chippa United (15th with 24 points) and Baroka FC (16th with 24 points).

And anyone coming up with all the correct answers from this multi-faceted puzzle might well require the mathematical acumen of an Albert Einstein!

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