Cape Argus

Race at top and bottom still very much on

- MIHLALI BALEKA @Mihlalibal­eka

MAMELODI Sundowns wrapped up the league title a week ago but there’s still a lot at stake in the Premiershi­p as far as the chase for a top three and top eight finish and fight for survival is concerned.

Second-placed AmaZulu are a win away from joining Sundowns in the CAF Champions League next season, but that will be easier said than done as Usuthu have stuttered lately after losing their last two league matches against Baroka FC and Orlando Pirates.

But they’ll be optimistic that they can still finish the job against Swallows and Maritzburg United.

Golden Arrows are third on the standings, occupying a CAF Confederat­ion Cup qualifying spot, but they are level on points with fourth-placed Pirates, whose aspiration­s of finishing in the top three took a huge knock last weekend after losing away to TS Galaxy in Nelspruit.

Arrows, who’ll hope that their Durban neighbours lose their last two matches, will have to ensure that they beat coach-less Kaizer Chiefs and Stellenbos­ch FC.

After being knocked out of the Confederat­ion Cup a fortnight ago, Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer will know that his future could depend on his team finishing in the top three this season, which is why the Sea robbers cannot afford to drop points against Baroka and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhand­ila FC.

Swallows FC, Super Sport United and Cape Town City are the three other teams who are guaranteed to play in the MTN8 competitio­n next season, while Galaxy occupy the eighth spot. But they are not home and dry yet as ninth-placed Baroka are just two points adrift.

Chiefs could still finish in the top eight, but will need to win their last two matches while hoping that Galaxy, Baroka and Celtic lose theirs.

But that’s no easy feat as Chiefs are coach-less after firing Gavin Hunt last week.

The 56-year-old mentor was sacked by the Glamour Boys on Friday afer a string of poor results in the league left them only five points clear of the relegation/promotion play-offs spot.

Arthur Zwane and Dillion Sheppard will serve as interim coaches, and the duo will know that their job is cut out for them as they’ll need to ensure the team finish in a better position and progress to the final of the Champions League. Chiefs are in the semi-finals, where they will face Wydad Casablanca.

After winning their last game against Chiefs, Black Leopards received a major boost in their bid to avoid automatic relegation.

They remain at the foot of the standings, three points adrift of Chippa United, who occupy the relegation play-offs position.

That’s why Leopards will know that anything less than maximum points in their last two matches, against Cape Town City and Celtic, and their chances of avoiding the drop will be slim.

Chippa will need at least one win in their last two games in order to be guaranteed a spot in the play-offs.

But should Chippa win their last two matches, they can finish as high as 11th if the teams above them, such as Chiefs, Maritzurg, Tshakhuma and Stellenbos­ch, lose their remaining matches tomorrow and on the final day of the season on Saturday.

All of today’s matches will kick off at 5pm and at 3pm on Saturday.

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