Ti­tle race – you snooze, you lose

Race for the Premier­ship is a tight af­fair, with the log leader chang­ing reg­u­larly

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

The summit of the Absa Premier­ship might change hands again next week – and it may not be for the last time as more twists and turns are ex­pected in the run-up to the cham­pi­onship. The top po­si­tion has seen four teams – Bid­vest Wits, Su­per­Sport United, Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs – ex­change the top spot.

Of the five ti­tle con­tenders, only Mamelodi Sun­downs have not oc­cu­pied the po­si­tion be­cause they have been play­ing catch-up matches.

How­ever, after their 5-0 de­mo­li­tion of Su­per­Sport United on Thurs­day evening, those who have al­ready ruled them out of con­tention do so at their peril.

De­spite drop­ping 12 points re­cently, the Brazilians showed they should still be counted among the favourites to lift the cham­pi­onship.

Next week’s fix­tures could well be called elim­i­na­tion matches as the top sides play against each other.

Not long ago, a fix­ture be­tween City and Wits would not have been re­garded as a ti­tle elim­i­na­tor, but this is what it has come to, with both sides in the race for top hon­ours.

City host the Stu­dents on Wed­nes­day in a top-of-the-ta­ble clash at Cape Town Sta­dium and hope to com­plete a dou­ble over Gavin Hunt’s men.

The Capeto­ni­ans won the first-round match 3-2.

Eric Tin­kler’s boys have in­stalled them­selves as ti­tle favourites with some glit­ter­ing per­for­mances this sea­son.

Wits, fresh from their trip to Egypt, where they played Smouha on Fri­day, will have to show their ti­tle cre­den­tials in this fix­ture if they are to be taken as se­ri­ous con­tenders.

Al­though they have key play­ers nurs­ing in­juries and rac­ing against time to be fit for the tie – James Keene (ham­string), Daine Klate (thigh), Xola Mlambo (ham­string), Gran­wald Scott (thigh), Nazeer Al­lie (bro­ken toe) – they still have enough weapons in their arse­nal to see them through.

City’s 4-2 vic­tory over Plat­inum Stars on Thurs­day saw them over­take the Stu­dents to the top spot once more.

So there is ev­ery­thing to play for as the Clever Boys’ win will see them over­tak­ing City at the top, while the Cape side will want to widen the gap. City cap­tain Le­bo­gang Manyama will hope to get back to his scor­ing ways after go­ing four matches with­out a goal. He had one goal less than top scorer Tendai Ndoro, who was on 12, be­fore this week­end’s round of matches.

An­other in­trigu­ing fix­ture is the sec­ond Tsh­wane derby in less than a week. After what hap­pened on Thurs­day, when Downs ham­mered United 5-0, sup­port­ers should brace them­selves for an­other cracker.

Both sides are still in the ti­tle race and know a vic­tory would go a long way in their race.

United will be gun­ning for re­venge after they suf­fered their heav­i­est de­feat in the PSL era.

PHOTO: RYAN WILKISKY / BACK­PAGEPIX PHOTO: THEMBA MAKO­FANE PHOTO: JEAN CATUFFE / GETTY IMAGES PHOTO: PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION IMAGES

TOP DOG Le­bo­gang Manyama has found the net 11 times this sea­son CON­TENDER Gavin Hunt’s Bid­vest Wits will have to prove their cre­den­tials on Wed­nes­day BEAST Zla­tan Ibrahi­mović will carry the hopes of Man United GOAL POACHER Diego Costa will lead Chelsea’s at­tack

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