Just like the Brazilians, Pirates are hoping for a last push for the Premiership crown
If there was ever a week that will have a huge say in the Premiership title race, it has to be this one.
It has been a roller-coaster ride of a season for the championship challengers, having experienced the good and bad in their respective campaigns.
But with two top-of-the-table clashes scheduled for this week, the pretenders could be separated from the real title contenders. It’s every man for himself with the 2019/20 season drawing to a close.
A major boost
Fresh from qualifying for the Nedbank Cup semi-finals after defeating Highlands Park 1-0 on Saturday night, Mamelodi Sundowns received a major boost ahead of their match against Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria tomorrow (7.30pm kick-off).
Having already bagged the Telkom Knockout crown and lying second in the Premiership standings, four points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, Sundown are still very much on course to win a treble at the end of the season.
But that will require squad management from coach Pitso Mosimane.
The absence of Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane for their game against Highlands Park could probably work in their favour as the duo should be ready and fresh for tomorrow’s clash.
Sundowns welcome Pirates to the nation’s capital on the back of a gruelling week after crashing out of the CAF Champions League, grinding out an away league win against Stellenbosch FC, and going to extra-time against the Lions of the North.
But there’s no time to sulk and moan before coming up against a well-rested Buccaneers, who last played a competitive match more than a week ago.
Just like the Brazilians, Pirates are hoping for a last push for the Premiership crown.
Coach Josef Zinnbauer’s men are fourth on the standings with 40 points, eight adrift of rivals Chiefs.
That gap could have been smaller had Pirates not stumbled in their last two matches, losing to Chiefs and drawing with Golden Arrows to end their six-match winning streak in the league.
Having already defeated Sundowns in the first round, the Buccaneers make the trip from Soweto to Pretoria with enough confidence that they can overturn their recent blemishes in their bid to claim a double over the defending league champions.
Meanwhile, there will be everything to play for in the Johannesburg derby when Amakhosi host neighbours Bidvest Wits at FNB Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm).
It has been a nervy period for Chiefs, who’ve seen their Premiership lead cut in recent weeks.
Fresh from that famous win over Pirates in the Soweto Derby, Chiefs were brought down to earth after losing to basement dwellers AmaZulu at home a week ago.
Coach Ernst Middendorp’s men will need a huge response in a bid to consolidate their No 1 spot, and that doesn’t get much bigger than defeating the Clever Boys.
Wits may be five spots behind Chiefs but with two games in hand they are still part of the chasing pack as two successive wins would move them further up the standings should the rest of the title contenders drop points along the way.
Wits’ task of keeping their eyes on the prize starts on Wednesday night against the Glamour Boys and getting three points there will be a huge motivation for their next match against fellow title contenders Pirates.