Our football analyst previews the PSL Week 17 action which kicks off on Friday 12 January 2018.
The business end of the PSL season is upon us and all teams somewhat have a picture of what to fight for come the run in. Cape Town City and Free State Stars are breathing down Mamelodi Sundowns’ neck with Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates also forming part of the chasing pack. Bidvest Wits, Platinum Stars and Ajax Cape Town are still in a relegation battle. What does gameweek 17 have in store for us?
Friday 12 January
Ajax Cape Town 12/10 | Draw 2/1 | Platinum Stars 23/10
Ajax Cape Town’s mentor, Muhsin Ertugral, is having his fourth spell with the club. He watched helplessly from the stands as his team relinquished a 1-0 halftime lead to lose 2-1 to Maritzburg United. Hopefully his work permit will be sorted by the time this game takes place. Fagrie Lakay who is on loan from SuperSport United also showed some glimpses of brilliance, leaving Bevan Fransman on the floor to create the team’s goal.
Platinum Stars are only two points clear of their opponents who are in the relegation zone, just one spot below them which makes this a do or die clash. Dikwena conceded at the death to lose 1-0 to Cape Town City last week. I’m expecting these embattled teams to cancel each other out.
Maritzburg United 12/10 | Draw 2/1 | Bloemfontein Celtic 23/10
The hosts have won three of their last five matches and they showed a great deal of fighting spirit last week, coming back from a goal down to beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 away from home. The experienced centre-back pairing of Bevan Fransman and Siyanda Xulu deals well with attacks, while Evans Rusike and Deolin Mekoa complement each other upfront.
Celtic are five points off the pace and they seem to have put their Telkom Knockout final defeat behind them with an enthralling victory over Golden Arrows on Sunday afternoon. Had it not been for poor finishing, Phunya Sele Sele would have scored about five goals. On loan defender, Lorenzo Gordinho, and development product, Billy Maema seem to be settling in well. Back the visitors to come out on top here.
Saturday 13 January
Mamelodi Sundowns 1/1 | Draw 21/10 | Orlando Pirates 26/10
Just when everyone thought Sundowns will easily win the league title, they hit an abrupt slump, losing two back-to-back matches to Cape Town City and Polokwane City who completed a double over them. They will be counting on their main man, Percy Tau, to produce the goods. Their recent record against Orlando Pirates is magnificent, having won all the last five league encounters.
The biggest worry for the Orlando Pirates technical team should be the unavailability of Thabo Matlaba due to accumulation of yellow cards. Last week they scored three goals in a match for the first time since March last year. Thabo Qalinge has returned to full fitness while injured Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Bernard Morrison and Thembinkosi Lorch sit out the match. I’m expecting the match to end in a draw.
Free State Stars 13/10 | Draw 2/1 | Cape Town City 21/10
Having a quality coach like Luc Eymael has seen Free State Stars dramatically turn their fortunes around and they now find themselves in third place with four victories and just one defeat in their last five matches. Last week, they downed struggling defending champions, Bidvest Wits, 1-0 at the Bidvest Stadium.
This is a top-of the table clash since Benni McCarthy’s second-placed Cape Town City are just one spot above their opponents. Roland Putsche’s last-gasp winner helped them secure all three points against struggling Platinum Stars. That was a great victory on the back of losing Aubrey Ngoma to Sundowns and Lehlohonolo Majoro to Wits. This will be a cagey and tactical match but I’m leaning towards Cape Town City.
Kaizer Chiefs 9/10 | Draw 22/10 | Polokwane City 29/10
Steve Komphela handed young left-back Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya his professional debut in their goalless draw with SuperSport United. It shall also be interesting to see who wins the battle for a starting berth between newly-signed Siphelele Ntshangase and Pule Ekstein. Amakhosi were dealt a terrible blow when another new signing, Kabelo Mahlasela, got injured in his first training session with the club.
Polokwane City shocked the whole South African football fraternity last week, recording an emphatic 3-2 victory over Sundowns in a thrill-packed encounter, completing a double over the table-toppers. Over the last five matches between Rise and Shine and Chiefs, there’s been three draws and a victory apiece. I’m putting my money on another draw.
Sunday 14 January
Baroka FC 8/10 | Draw 23/10 | AmaZulu 33/10
After starting the season impressively, topping the standings and winning the first quarter (Q1-Innovation) prize, the wheels have come off the Baroka wagon. With only one win and three defeats in their last five matches, they’ve plummeted to eighth. They’ve lost the services of Siphelele Ntshangase to Kaizer Chiefs and last week they were drubbed 3-1 by Orlando Pirates.
Usuthu will be hoping to record their first ever victory over Baroka in Limpopo and turn the corner after going eight matches without a victory. Their first match after the festive break ended in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chippa United. My money is on Baroka.
Chippa United 8/10 | Draw 23/10 | Bidvest Wits 33/10
Teboho Moloi has taken the Chippa United head coaching job by the scruff of its neck. The team are currently seventh on the standings and they are not showing any signs of slowing down. The acquisition of Thabo Rakhale who is known for exciting football is a clear indication of how Tebza wants the team to play, having already got Mark Mayambela at his disposal. Last week, they returned to winning ways, courtesy of a 2-0 victory over AmaZulu.
Wits are still rooted to the foot of the PSL table and the results aren’t forthcoming. After having ended the first half of the season with just two victories, the losing streak continued after the festive break as they succumbed 1-0 to Free State Stars. This is a brave prediction but I’m tipping Chippa to win at home.
Golden Arrows 12/10 | Draw 2/1 | SuperSport United 23/10
Abafana Bes’thende have gone 12 matches without a win and it will take something special to beat a formidable SuperSport United side. Last week’s display against Celtic was slammed by coach Clinton Larsen, calling it the worst performance by the club since he joined it. If they can build from their second half performance, they can get something out of the game.
SuperSport United are enduring a six-match winless run with star-striker, Jeremy Brockie, failing to find the back of the net recently and speculation that he might leave for Pirates or Sundowns isn’t helping his cause mentally. The teams are likely to share the spoils.
TREBLE @ 16/1
Baroka Win 8/10
Sundowns vs Pirates Draw 21/10
Cape Town City Win 21/10