Absa Premiership

OPINION | Crucial week for Sundowns' Absa Prem title aspirations

Pitso Mosimane (Getty Images)
Pitso Mosimane (Getty Images)

Starting off with tonight's fixture against the newly-promoted Stellenbosch FC, this could be a pivotal week for Mamelodi Sundowns' Absa Premiership title aspirations.

After being knocked out by Al Ahly at the quarter-final stage of the CAF Champions League, the reigning Absa Premiership champions will now be turning their attention towards a serious tilt towards the league title.

Following their away fixture against Stellenbosch, Pitso Mosimane's side faces a quick turnaround with a Nedbank Cup quarter-final clash against Highlands Park before returning to league action against Orlando Pirates.

This will see Sundowns playing three games in just six days.

With two games in hand over leaders Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns could reduce the seven-point gap at the top of the table to just a single point with a further eight fixtures left to play in the final stretch of the league campaign.

We could then very shortly get a clearer picture of just how close the race to be crowned champions will be.

After the three fixtures, Sundowns then face tricky trips to Highlands Park, Maritzburg United and Cape Town City with a potential title decider away to Kaizer Chiefs on April 15.

Boasting a squad of unrivalled talent - funded by billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe - Sundowns have to be seen as favourites.

However, money doesn't matter on a football pitch and with the unpredictability of the Absa Premiership, it's hard to see Masandawana not dropping further points before the end of the season.

The Brazilians' remaining fixtures are against Stellenbosch, Pirates, Highlands, Maritzburg, CT City, Golden Arrows, Chiefs, Baroka, Polokwane City and Black Leopards.

Against these opponents this season Sundowns have dropped points against Pirates (1-0 defeat); CT City (1-1 draw); Arrows (3-2 defeat); Chiefs (2-0 defeat); Baroka (0-0 draw).

This clearly proves that the title race is far from over with games in hand in no way guarantee of closing the gap to Chiefs with many potential pitfalls.

These remaining games will also be vital to Mosimane's credentials who is currently in talks to extend his stay at Chloorkop.

The 55-year-old's hand in the negotiations will be undoubtedly strengthened if he delivers another league title to the club. These games could also be a yardstick to gauge his ability as a coach to extract results from his richly-assembled squad.

Many potential questions asked of the controversial coach will be answered.

Will Mosimane deliver yet another Absa Premiership trophy?

Will he be able to do this without further controversy?

Can he win his battle against German counterpart Ernst Middendorp?

My prediction is that Mosimane will fall just short.

He'll lose out to Chiefs in the title race and either point to his side's fixture schedule (CAF CL fixtures) or refereeing decisions as to reasons for his side's shortcomings.

All will soon be revealed in this Absa Premiership race so grab a front-row seat, buckle up and get ready for more shock results and controversy in the always exciting Absa Premiership.

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