We can all agree there are few things in this world that compare to cup football, but Premier Soccer League action just so happens to be one of those.
The eyes of South Africa revert back to the PSL following the two-week break which accommodated the Nedbank Cup round of 32, and with none of the current top-four suffering an early exit in the tournament, confidence should be sky high heading into this week’s round of league fixtures.
All the talk of the recent cup session was focused on Sundowns’ outrageous 24-0 demolition of Powerlines FC, and while the Brazilians’ next opponents Bidvest Wits are leaps and bounds ahead of the Kimberley amateurs in terms of quality, the Students should be prepared for the worst on Tuesday as Johan Neeskens’ men look to maintain their march towards the title.
Roger de Sa’s Clever Boys have fallen well off the pace in recent weeks and currently find themselves ninth in the standings after drawing two and losing one of their three matches so far this year.
My prediction: Sundowns 2-1 Wits
Also gracing the PSL stage on Tuesday night will be the crunch match-up between Black Leopards and SuperSport United, although the two teams are currently fighting very different battles.
Gavin Hunt’s United have spent the majority of the season near to – or on top of – the PSL standings, although they most recently fell off the pace following their 1-0 defeat to a resurgent AmaZulu last time out.
Far away on the other end of the spectrum we find Leopards, who will need to concoct some sort of miracle potion to wrench themselves off the bottom of the table. However, with Lidoda Duvha boasting just two league victories this season, anything over and above a draw would seem like wishful thinking from Vladislav Heric’s side.
My prediction: Black Leopards 0-4 SuperSport United
Things continue to heat up on Wednesday, starting with the small matter of Santos taking on Orlando Pirates. To say the People’s Team are suffering at the moment would be like saying the Buccaneers are flying high… It just doesn’t do the facts justice.
The Cape Town outfit currently find themselves peering over the ledge of relegation, with caretaker coach Duncan Crowie facing a mountain to climb after inheriting a side apparently void of any top-flight aspirations this season.
The Sea Robbers, meanwhile, are well on their way to once more ripping up the domestic rule book and rewriting it as they go. The 2011/12 MTN8 and Telkom Knockout titles have already been jammed into Bucs’ trophy cabinet along with their treble haul from last season, and with four successive league wins on their backs, a successful defence of the PSL crown is looking more and more likely.
The Pirates ship may be in danger of running aground though, following the suspension of coach Julio Leal on Monday, although the club’s ability to perform no matter who is at the helm should be enough to see them past the Capetonians on match day.
My prediction: Santos 0-2 Orlando Pirates
One of the trickier midweek encounters sees Moroka Swallows travel to the Charles Mopeli Stadium to take on Free State Stars.
The Dube Birds currently enjoy a one point, and one place, advantage over Ea Lla Koto, although both clubs have suffered indifferent form in 2012 and have just one win each from their three respective league encounters so far this year.
Stars may just edge their upcoming opponents based on recent form though, with Steve Komphela’s men having picked up five points in that time, while the Birds have earned four.
My prediction: Free State Stars 1-1 Moroka Swallows
Two sides who would love to be able to boast records such as those are Golden Arrows and Platinum Stars, who are both in real danger of being sucked into the drop zone.
Abafana Bes’thende may have romped to a 4-2 victory over Black Leopards in their previous league encounter, but that result marked the end of a five-match winless streak for Muhsin Ertugral’s men, leaving them just five points above the bottom two.
Dikwena, meanwhile, find themselves in a PSL free fall and have recorded just one victory in their last 10 Premiership encounters, with the club now just four points above the safety zone.
Stars will also welcome Arrows to the Moruleng Stadium without regular coach Owen da Gama after he was suspended by the club pending an investigation into claims he accepted money from players to be selected.
My prediction: Platinum Stars 1-2 Golden Arrows
The final match on Wednesday night sees top-eight hopefuls Bloemfontein Celtic travel to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium to face an out-of-sorts Maritzburg United.
The Team of Choice last recorded a PSL victory on December 17 when they saw off current relegation candidates Jomo Cosmos 3-1, but they have since suffered two draws and two defeats to leave them 11th in the standings, although they sit a comfortable eights points clear of the drop zone.
Phunya Sele Sele, meanwhile, have been up and down in recent weeks, with their latest outing more in the ‘down’ category after they handed Platinum Stars their first win in 10. However, Clinton Larsen’s men remain on track to secure a spot in the top eight come the end of the season, with the club currently occupying the final MTN8 qualifying spot.
My prediction: Maritzburg United 0-1 Bloemfontein Celtic
By Ryan Gordon
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Article source: http://www.football365.co.za/story/0,22162,14290_7592882,00.html