The PSL title and the dreaded drop – all the drama of the last two rounds
The penultimate round of the Absa Premiership season on Saturday sees all eight matches kick off at 3pm‚ meaning there is no advantage for any side as they jostle for places in the standings. We look at the permutations of each of the 15 clubs.
Here is a look at the permutations for each of the 16 top flight clubs with two games each left in the season – and still much to be decided.
1. MAMELODI SUNDOWNS:
The Brazilians will be crowned champions for the third time in five years on Saturday if they beat Ajax Cape Town in Atteridgeville in their last home match. This is irrespective of what second-placed Orlando Pirates achieve.
If Sundowns do not win‚ they can still be crowned champions if Pirates lose at the same time.
2. ORLANDO PIRATES:
For Pirates to stand any chance of going on to win the championship‚ they must overcome their Cape Town Stadium hoodoo and beat Cape Town City. At the same time they have to hope that Ajax Cape Town beat Sundowns in Atteridgeville.
3. MARITZBURG UNITED:
Third-placed Maritzburg are away at fourth-placed Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday as they battle for a place in next season’s Caf Confederation Cup‚ which is guaranteed to the club who finish third in the Absa Premiership.
A win would guarantee Maritzburg a club-record third-place finish and that spot in African club competition but any other result leaves third place still up for grabs going into the final round of matches on May 12.
4. KAIZER CHIEFS:
Chiefs can still make something of a disappointing season by qualifying for the Confederation Cup. They will need to beat Maritzburg on Saturday and then effectively need another point in their last game of the season away at Ajax on May 12.
5. FREE STATE STARS:
Stars can still emulate their third-third placed finish in 1991‚ when Augusto Palacios was coach‚ if they win their last two games‚ starting at home against Polokwane City on Saturday.
But they need Maritzburg and Chiefs to draw at the same time and hope again that results go their way on the last day of the season next month.
6. CAPE TOWN CITY:
Mathematically City can still finish third‚ as they did last season in their maiden PSL campaign‚ but it is the longest of long shots. If they beat Pirates on Saturday‚ they could still forge a top-five finish‚ which must be seen as a success for rookie coach Benni McCarthy.
7. CHIPPA UNITED:
The Port Elizabeth club can still finish as high as fifth place – a club record – if they win at home to SuperSport United in East London and again in their last game on May 12. That would be a major boost to the hopes of caretaker-coach Vladislav Heric getting the job on a permanent basis.
AmaZulu are just as likely to finish in the top eight as they are to end the season in second-last place and be forced to compete in the promotion-relegation playoffs.
They are only four points above the relegation zone and have a tough assignment at outgoing champions Bidvest Wits on Saturday and finish the season at home against another difficult opponent – Cape Town City.
9. BLOEMFONTEIN CELTIC:
Celtic are one of three clubs on 35 points but be concerned they could be sucked into the relegation slot because they finish with two tough assignments. Saturday’s trip to Baroka is followed by home game against Sundowns.
10. LAMONTVILLE GOLDEN ARROWS:
Arrows’ win over Chiefs on Tuesday might yet prove their salvation as they were in real danger of suddenly dropping down. The Durban club have a chance to make sure they avoid finishing 15th by beating Platinum Stars on Saturday before they go away to Maritzburg on the last day of the season.
11. BAROKA FC:
Technical director Doctor Khumalo replaces McDonald Makhubedu as caretaker-coach on the bench for Baroka’s last two games‚ as Bakgaga take a run of only a single victory in their previous nine league games into their last home encounter of the season‚ against Celtic on Saturday.
If they do not win‚ they could face a situation where they will need points away at SuperSport United on the final day of the season to stay clear of that dreaded second-last spot.
12. BIDVEST WITS:
Champions last season and now sitting just two points above the relegation zone. Coach Gavin Hunt says he is a deeply worried man as his team have looked listless and without the requisite drive.
They have home advantage over AmaZulu on Saturday and if they win and the teams below them fail to take three points at the same time‚ then Wits will be safe.
13. POLOKWANE CITY:
City have conceded a late equaliser in their last two games otherwise would not be in a sticky situation they face now. On Saturday they have a notoriously difficult trip top Bethlehem where they must be hoping Free State Stars are still in party mode after last weekend’s Nedbank Cup semifinal success.
14. SUPERSPORT UNITED:
How vital might the last-gasp goal from Teboho Mokoena yet turn out to be as SuperSport beat Free State Stars 3-2 on Tuesday to stay out of the bottom two. They can bounce up the table if they can get a result away at Chippa United.
15. AJAX CAPE TOWN:
All the other clubs facing the possibility of dropping into the relegation zone will not have to worry if Ajax fail to get any points from their last two matches. They are tough assignments indeed‚ away on Saturday to Sundowns and then finishing at home to Kaizer Chiefs.
16. PLATINUM STARS:
Roger de Sa’s side are relegated after finishing last but might still have a say in the relegation battle if they upset Arrows in Durban on Saturday and Wits in their final game on May 12.