#AbsaPrem mid-term report card: Wits keep Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns at bay
The Absa Premiership has reached the halfway mark and pacesetters Bidvest Wits are perched at the summit with a three points lead.
Gavin Hunt’s men went to the break with a comfortable 2-0 win over Chippa United last week and it remains to be seen if they have enough in the tank to protect their lead in the second half of the season next year.
Wits have played an equal number of 15 games with four of the five teams placed in the top five bracket on the log with the exception of fourth-placed Mamelodi Sundowns who have played three games less.
Wits, who won the league two seasons ago, go to the Christmas break with 30 points after winning nine matches, drawing three and losing three in 15 outings.
Simon Murray is their leading scorer with four goals and he is followed by Deon Hotto who has found the back of the net three times.
Wits are the league’s top scorers with 22 goals to their name and they boast the second best defensive record having conceded only nine behind Sundowns who have conceded seven.
When they return from the break, Wits will restart their campaign with a tricky trip to Free State Stars in Bethlehem where Hunt will be hoping to have captain Thulani Hlatshwayo back after he sustained a head injury against Baroka FC.
Breathing down their neck is Orlando Pirates who ended the year sitting second with 27 points.
Coach Milutin Sredojevic will have to find creative ways of refreshing the team as they will be involved in the Caf Champions League and the Nedbank Cup while trying to keep up with Wits next year.
Sundowns, who have played three games less, and Kaizer Chiefs are expected to also snap at Wits’ heels and mount strong challenges for the league title next year.
Chiefs will hope to continue improving under new coach Ernst Middendorp, who recently replaced sacked Giovanni Solinas, and keep up with the leaders.
It is also intriguing at the bottom of the log where coach Fadlu Davids and his struggling Maritzburg United are rooted to the foot of the table and face a huge mountain to climb in the new year to resurrect their campaign.
Baroka FC went to the last round of fixtures of the year at the bottom but significantly improved their position to 12th by beating Maritzburg on Saturday, which is a result that will give them confidence going into the second round.
Other teams that must improve in the new year include Chippa, Stars, Black Leopards, Lamontville Golden Arrows, AmaZulu and Highlands Park because few points separate them from the bottom.