Crucial clashes highlight penultimate round of DStv Premiership

The penultimate round of the 2020–21 DStv Premiership season on Wednesday sees the title already sewn up, but plenty more to play for at both ends of the table in what could be a decisive set of fixtures.

Here is a quick guide to the full round of eight games.

CAPE TOWN CITY VS BLACK LEOPARDS

Black Leopards will be desperate for a win, or at the bare minimum a draw, to keep their survival hopes alive, but either way will still be dependent on results elsewhere.

They are currently three points adrift at the bottom of the table, but their dismal goal-difference (-22) means they are effectively four points behind Chippa United (-13) just above them.

Leopards have shown a recent up-tick in form, including the victory over Kaizer Chiefs last week, which means they have taken seven points from the last 12 available, a decent enough return.

City are winless in four games (D2 L2) and play a first game under returning coach Eric Tinkler, who is trying to get the team the point they need to secure MTN8 football for next season.

Leopards have lost both their previous trips to face City (1-3 and 0-1), while the Cape Town club also claimed a 2-0 victory in Thohoyandou earlier this campaign.

The home side will be without goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh, who has returned to the Netherlands before the end of the season to prepare for life at Groningen in the next campaign.

KAIZER CHIEFS VS LAMONTVILLE GOLDEN ARROWS

Kaizer Chiefs play a first fixture under their interim co-coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard, who have been handed the reins following the sacking of Gavin Hunt on Friday.

The teams still have an outside chance of earning a place in the MTN8 for next season, but must win both their remaining games and hope the teams above them falter. It looks highly unlikely.

Golden Arrows are still very much in the hunt for CAF club competition football and are in third position, which would see them compete in the Confederation Cup.

They are level with Orlando Pirates on 46 points, but ahead on goal-difference. The pair are four points behind AmaZulu in the Champions League qualification place, and that might be a bridge too far for both.

Golden Arrows have only lost two of their 14 away games this season (W5 D7), while Chiefs have only won twice from 14 at home (D7 L5).

Abafana Bes’thende’s form has not been great of late with two wins in their last nine games (D5 L2), but they did secure a comprehensive 3-0 success over TS Galaxy last time out on May 19.

Golden Arrows’ last away win at Chiefs was in 2011, with the eight visits since then resulting in three draws and five defeats. The fixture in Durban earlier this season finished 2-2.

STELLENBOSCH FC VS TS GALAXY

These are nervous times for Stellenbosch FC, who find themselves sucked into the relegation mix with just five wins from their 28 games this campaign.

This is despite the quality of their squad, which is perhaps just missing a goal-poacher given the number of gilt-edged chances the team has missed to win games this campaign.

They will need to be sharp when they host MTN8-chasing TS Galaxy, for whom it is win or bust recently. Galaxy’s last 10 games have seen them win four and lose six.

Stellenbosch have drawn their last two matches 0-0 and have a single goal in their last seven games, more than 11 hours of football.

Both teams have had similar seasons in front of goal though, with 26 goals scored in their 28 games, which suggests this might be a low-scoring affair, possibly decided by a single goal if there is to be a winner.

That was the case when they met at Galaxy earlier in the campaign, with Stellies taking the three points. The previous three meetings have resulted in two wins for the Winelands club and a draw.

SUPERSPORT UNITED VS MARITZBURG UNITED

Maritzburg United are not completely safe from the relegation play-offs, but have put themselves in a strong position to survive and a win here would be enough to seal their status for next season.

A draw would also be handy and take them to 30 points, which is generally accepted as the threshold for safety and should be the magic number again this campaign.

SuperSport are in with the slimmest of chances of a top three finish, but look to have left it too late and having already secured a top eight place are more likely jostling for positions five to seven on the table.

Matsatsantsa have one win in 12 games (D7 L4) in what has been a tough period for the club, not helped by injuries to key players.

They have been solid enough at home though, losing just once in 14 games (W6 D7), but overall it has been a campaign where they have shipped too many goals.

Of the other sides in the top eight currently, only Cape Town City (36) have conceded more.

SuperSport won the corresponding fixture 2-1 in November, while Maritzburg’s last success away came in a surprise 4-1 win in 2014.

Maritzburg fans will not need reminding of their club record 7-0 loss at SuperSport in 2011.

TTM VS CHIPPA UNITED

A relegation six-pointer and also a repeat of the Nedbank Cup final from last month where TTM ran out 1-0 winners in Bloemfontein to secure a first piece of silverware for the club.

Chippa United occupy the relegation play-off position with 25 points, three ahead of Black Leopards in the automatic relegation place. They do also have a small safety net in that their goal-difference (-13) is vastly superior to the latter (-22).

Chippa could not only leap-frog Stellenbosch FC (27 points) with a win, but also move to within a point of TTM (29), which could set up a nervous final day for all.

TTM will know that a point ensures their safety and could be the limit of their ambitions, though victory could take them as high as 10th, which would be a major morale-booster for next season.

Chippa have done OK in the league in their last five games, with two wins, two draws and a single defeat, though that loss at home to Bloemfontein Celtic on May 18 saw the end of the brief stay of yet another coach in Vladislav Heric.

TTM have been a mixed bag, their last eight league games have seen four wins, three defeats and a single draw, which was in their previous match at Polokwane rivals Baroka that ended 0-0.

BLOEMFONTEIN CELTIC VS MAMELODI SUNDOWNS

Probably the one fixture in this round where there is nothing really to play for with Mamelodi Sundowns having already secured the league title and Bloemfontein Celtic a very long-shot for MTN8 qualification.

Celtic are four points behind TS Galaxy in eighth, and would need to win this one to stand a chance of overhauling them. Their fate would still be out of their hands though with Galaxy and maybe Baroka ahead of them.

Celtic can make a statement with a victory though and carry on their good home form that has seen them lose just once this campaign (W5 D8) in their own backyard.

Sundowns will want to keep up their unbeaten away run (W9 D5), which has seen them concede only six times in 14 games on the road.

Celtic did beat Sundowns away in the MTN8 quarterfinals at the start of this season, while the league fixture in Tshwane finished 0-0.

AMAZULU VS SWALLOWS FC

A huge clash in the context of CAF club competition places next season, with AmaZulu seeking the win that would secure them second position and the Champions League, while ‘draw kings’ Swallows are not out of the running for the Confederation Cup.

The latter trail Lamontville Golden Arrows and Orlando Pirates (both 46 points) by three points and would have been out of sight in second, at least, had they not drawn an astonishing PSL record 19 of their 28 league games so far this campaign.

That includes each of their last seven games (five by 1-1 scorelines, the last two by 0-0), but on their return to the top-flight they can at least celebrate what looks certain to be a top six finish.

They do set up as a team that is scared to lose rather than one going for the win, and it will be a fascinating battle against the attacking intent of AmaZulu.

Usuthu have lost their last two games, including a feisty clash with Orlando Pirates last time out. Both of those were 1-0 defeats and they have now scored just once in three matches since hammering Cape Town City 5-1.

The teams played to a 0-0 draw when they met in Soweto earlier in the campaign.

BAROKA FC VS ORLANDO PIRATES

Both these sides are chasing qualification via league position for next season, with Pirates trying, as a bare minimum, to play in the CAF Confederation Cup, and Baroka searching for a place in the MTN8.

In truth, both will also probably need wins if they are to achieve their goals, so this should be an entertaining encounter between two sides needing success. A draw does neither any favours.

Baroka have actually got more points on the road this season than at home (19 versus three 14) with their lightning ability to hit teams on the counter-attack which could be very much the plan here.

They could set up for an ‘away’ game, with Pirates never easy to break down. Only champions Mamelodi Sundowns (14) have conceded fewer goals than Pirates’ 21.

Pirates have been a bit all over the place in the league, their last six games have seen two wins, two draws and two defeats, though their last away victory was three months ago at the start of March.

Baroka have a single win in their last 11 home league matches (D4 L6), and that was against bottom side Black Leopards all the way back in February.

Baroka have never beaten Pirates, though the draw has dominated this fixture. The previous 10 meetings have seen eight of them, with Pirates claiming two wins.

© Mzansi Football

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