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PSL Title Race – The Final Stretch

We analyze the final stretch of an intriguing PSL title race with both Kaizer Chiefs & Mamelodi Sundowns struggling to actually claim it.

PSL Title Race Mamelodi Sundowns Kaizer Chiefs

Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns astonishingly both lost on Sunday, leaving us with a thrilling finish to the PSL season ahead. The teams are tied on 53 points, with Bidvest Wits on 49.

Wits, who will play Black Leopards and Polokwane City in their last two games, still have a mathematical chance of title glory. Even SuperSport United could theoretically clinch it on goal difference. However, for the purpose of this preview, we are focusing primarily on the two frontrunners.

Kaizer Chiefs: Chippa United (H), Orlando Stadium; Baroka (A), Bidvest Stadium

Kaizer Chiefs were handed a major favour by Baroka as they beat Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 on Sunday, but Amakhosi’s job is far from done.

There is no easy game in the PSL, as Chiefs found out the hard way when they faced Chippa United on the last day of the league season last year.

A 1-0 victory for the Chilli Boys in Port Elizabeth cost Ernst Middendorp’s men an MTN8 place. A repeat upset is not out of the question by any means.

Chippa boast a better defensive record than even Chiefs this season, with 25 goals conceded to Amakhosi’s 26. The onus is on the hosts to break Chippa down, as any dropped points would hand control of the title race back to Sundowns.

Where Lehlohonolo Seema’s men struggle is on attack. Their football has been far from breathtaking this season and it took a last-gasp equaliser from Thokozani Sekotlong to secure them a point against Stellenbosch in their last game.

Bruce Bvuma is likely to start in goal for Chiefs with Daniel Akpeyi picking up a seemingly serious injury against Bidvest Wits. The 25-year-old has been preferred to Itumeleng Khune as backup in recent weeks.

Chiefs will then finish off with another potential banana skin as they visit Baroka at Bidvest Stadium. It will probably be best for the Glamour Boys if Bakgaga can secure their survival in the upcoming round of fixtures rather than heading into the final game still needing a result.

Baroka showed how gutsy and determined they can be with their backs against the wall when they faced Sundowns, but a worry for Pitso Mosimane’s men could be that they exhausted themselves in the process. If they still have anything left in the tank for the game against Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns will need them to give all of it.

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Mamelodi Sundowns: Polokwane City (A), Loftus Versfeld; Black Leopards (H), Dobsonville Stadium

Mamelodi Sundowns are not out of the race yet and will be facing the two bottom clubs in the league in their final two fixtures. However, these matches are unlikely to be as easy as they may seem to an outside observer.

Rise and Shine showed their potential on the counter-attack in a thrilling 3-2 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs, but results are not going Clinton Larsen’s way. Polokwane also squandered a 1-0 lead in their 1-1 draw against Highlands Park and have drawn two games and lost two since the restart, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the log.

A win could take Rise and Shine out of the relegation zone, and they are unlikely to fear going after all three points, even against the defending champions at what would normally be Sundowns’ home.

Perhaps Polokwane’s open style could give Masandawana an opportunity to bridge the five-goal goal difference deficit to Kaizer Chiefs should they take their chances on the day.

The only team with a worse defensive record in the league than Polokwane City is Black Leopards, who will face Sundowns after Rise and Shine do.

It has been a topsy-turvy season for Lidoda Duvha. They looked down and out following Alan Clark’s departure to Kosovo, but Mongezi Bobe and Morgan Shivambu started superbly with wins over Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows.

Leopards languish in 15th once again now following losses to SuperSport United and AmaZulu. They will face a strong Bidvest Wits side before finishing the season against Sundowns, so they will likely have plenty to play for against the defending champions.

The encounter against Baroka was bruising for Pitso Mosimane’s men, with Andile Jali and Sibusiso Vilakazi taking knocks. Their squad depth will come in handy now more than ever.

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The psychological advantage is with Chiefs, who have led the season most of the way and were handed a major favour by Mamelodi Sundowns against Baroka.

Masandawana are likely to dominate South African football for years to come given the shrewd business they have done in recent months, but on this occasion, Chiefs look likely to pip them at the post.

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Leonard Solms is a sports journalist who features regularly on various local and international platforms including ESPN, New Frame, FARPost, Tagged Online and Careers Magazine, as well as this one. He enjoys the occasional bet and the most important tip he can give you is to bet within your means.

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