The Star Late Edition
Some breathing space for Downs
WITH their latest win, Mamelodi Sundowns have one hand on the Premiership crown, which they could capture before the end of the season if nearest rivals AmaZulu drop points in their next two outings.
It was yet another unconvincing performance by Sundowns on Sunday when they claimed a 1-0 win over TS Galaxy, who contributed to their woes by missing a penalty.
But the win ensured that Sundowns have a vice-like grip on the title they have held for the last three seasons. They are on 57 points, seven clear of nearest rivals AmaZulu, and both teams have played 32 games.
Simple mathematics suggests that if Sundowns bag six more points (63) from their remaining four games, they will be in an unassailable position. The most points AmaZulu can amass is 62 by winning all four of their remaining games.
At this stage, there is no chance of a nail-biting finish to the season, as was the case last year when Sundowns pipped log leaders Kaizer
Chiefs on the final day of the league competition.
The title chase could be over if AmaZulu lose their next two matches against Baroka FC (home) and Orlando Pirates (away).
Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is aware of the importance of finishing the season strongly.
“We have got objectives to achieve in these last few games, and we managed to get the result for this one," said Mngqithi.
“We are looking towards the next four and what we get out of it. To be honest, if we win all four, it will be good for us.
“It does not matter what happens, but we have to make sure that there is at least one cycle that we get a crown (title). Possibly this should be the one (the Premiership).”
Because the Confederation of African Football (CAF) pushed out the next round of World Cup 2022 qualifiers from June to September, it means that the national team would no longer be on duty at the end of May.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) duly moved the season out from
May 29 to June 5.
“The fact that the games have been pushed a little bit backwards gives us a breather in between the Champions League matches.
“We (Sundowns) must thank the league (PSL) because in most cases, we always complain that our fixtures are not right. This time I think we need to thank the league for considering us.
“For me, that is very big. It is a sign that we’re together in this venture to try to conquer Africa as well.”
Meanwhile, Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana says their remaining Premiership matches will prove mentally testing, more than physically and tactically.
“Our (league) run-in is going to be difficult. It is going to be more mental than tactically and physically challenging.
“On top of this, we still have the quarter-final of the Champions League against Al Ahly (on Saturday), but we will try to tackle these fixtures with the same energy and seriousness.”