Our football writer previews the PSL Week Three action which kicks off on Friday 17 August 2018.
It’s been an interesting three weeks of domestic top-flight football with the Absa Premiership and MTN8 games giving us a taste of what to expect in the current season. Bidvest Wits and Steve Komphela’s Bloemfontein Celtic are the early pacesetters as they top the standings with maximum points in their respective opening fixtures.
On the wrong end of the table, Chippa United, Polokwane City and Maritzburg United are early relegation candidates as they’re all still on zero points. The big three, namely Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns are still blowing hot and cold and this could be a defining gameweek for them. This is how I think week three will pan out…
Friday 17 August
Maritzburg United 23/10
Kaizer Chiefs 12/10
Maritzburg United have lost all their three opening competitive games of the season. Last week, they crashed out of the MTN8 just after losing back to back league encounters. The team is playing well but they lack creativity and firepower in the final third as they haven’t managed to replace Lebohang Maboe and Evans Rusike so far.
Inconsistency has once again been the story for Kaizer Chiefs this season as they drew their opening league encounter, lost the second match and won the MTN8 quarterfinal convincingly. In the victorious clash against Free State Stars, coach Giovanni Solinas decided to bench the old guard of the team and the youngsters rose to the occasion with Siphelele Ntshangase winning the man of the match award. I think he will stick with the side that won 3-0 last week. My money is on Kaizer Chiefs.
Saturday 18 August
Polokwane City 12/10
Baroka FC 49/20
The Limpopo derby will be a mouth-watering prospect between two teams that want to avoid relegation dogfight early in the season. Polokwane City have lost both their opening fixtures without scoring a single goal.
On the other hand, after losing their first game 1-0 to AmaZulu, Baroka made good use of set pieces in their second match when they beat Cape Town City 2-1 in the second match of the season. Coach Wedson Nyirenda also pointed out that he’s starting to understand his players better. Get on Baroka to register their second win of the season and steer clear of danger.
Cape Town City 27/20
Golden Arrows 43/20
Cape Town City have played three matches so far and won two of them with the other one ending in a defeat. Roland Putsche and Thabo Nodada have been fantastic in the middle of the park with the latter winning the man of the match award in their MTN8 quarter-final victory over Maritzburg United.
Arrows have won one of their last three competitive games and last week they crashed out of the MTN8 after losing 2-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns who play like a well-oiled machine. I foresee them struggling against a Cape Town City side that can beat anyone on their day. Back Cape Town City to collect maximum points.
Bidvest Wits 11/10
SuperSport United 26/10
The former champions top the standings after collecting maximum points in their first two games. Deon Hotto netted screamers on both the 3-0 victory over Free State Stars and the 3-1 drubbing of Kaizer Chiefs. In the first match, they were deadly on set pieces. Their defence is so solid now with Thulani Hlatswayo now playing as a right-back since the signing of Robyn Johannes, with Buhle Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti completing the back four.
SuperSport United narrowly edged Orlando Pirates out in the MTN8 last week, defeating them on penalties after the match ended in a 2-2 draw. Ronwen Williams was once again a key player, saving Augustine Mulenga’s penalty in extra time and also denying Innocent Maela in the subsequent shootout. They looked dangerous on the counter with Evans Rusike’s pace coming in handy. This will be a cagey affair but I think Wits have a better chance of collecting maximum points.
Chippa United 21/20
Black Leopards 28/10
Chippa could have easily beaten 10-men Orlando Pirates in their recent league encounter but their ineptitudes in front of goal saw them fail to overturn a 1-0 deficit despite having numerical advantage and creating countless chances. They are still without a single point after two games and remain rooted to the foot of the table.
Black Leopards displayed a great deal of fighting spirit in front of a fully-packed Makhulong Stadium last week when they salvaged a point despite going 2-0 down against Highlands Park in the dying minutes of the game. Lidoda Duvha have collected four out of a possible six points so far. I don’t see anything stopping the visitors from claiming a victory here.
Sunday 19 August
Free State Stars 28/10
AmaZulu have lost one and won one of their two opening league fixtures, conceding one and scoring one goal in the process. They look good in terms of their tactical organisation but they need to do better in terms of creating clear-cut chance. Free State Stars suffered a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Kaizer Chiefs last week and it looks like teams now up their game against them as they closed off last season by winning the Nedbank Cup. I think Stars will return to winning ways here.
Bloemfontein Celtic 21/10
Orlando Pirates 13/10
This is a crucial clash between two clubs that are among the morning leaders of the Absa Premiership. Celtic have collected maximum points and Pirates has dropped two. After crashing out of the MTN8, the mighty Buccaneers will focus firmly on trying to win the league and the technical team knows that their exciting football must be accompanied by positive results. Last week’s MTN8 defeat can be attributed to missed chances and a lottery of penalties. Put your money on Pirates.
Wednesday 22 August
Mamelodi Sundowns 6/10
Highlands Park 9/2
Sundowns are facing a hectic schedule as they have to travel to Morocco for a CAF Champions League date with Wydad Casablanca before returning home for this fixture. The Brazilians are unbeaten in the new season with two wins and one draw to their name. Last week, they brushed Arrows aside to progress to the MTN8 semi-finals.
Highlands Park let slip a 2-0 lead in the dying stages of their game against Black Leopards to draw the match 2-2 and coach Owen da Gama was furious at his players for being complacent. They have now drawn both their opening two matches. I think Sundowns will win this one convincingly at home.
TREBLE @ 10/1
Kaizer Chiefs Win 12/10
Orlando Pirates Win 13/10
Bidvest Wits Win 11/10