The table reads Kaizer Chiefs on 48 points, while Mamelodi Sundowns are at 44 points. With one game in hand and only four points difference, the league could be decided at the FNB stadium…
How important will experience be? Will it play a part?
Chiefs have eight games left to play in 2019/20 campaign, with their head-to-head tie against Downs on home ground being the biggest of the lot. They also face Stellenbosch FC (away), Bidvest Wits (home & away), Chippa United (home), Baroka FC (away), Bloemfontein Celtic (away) and Polokwane City (away).
Sundowns do have a game in hand, however, they still have to face both Soweto giants, playing Chiefs away from home and Orlando Pirates on home ground. Their other seven fixtures include Golden Arrows (home), Baroka FC (home), Polokwane City (away), Black Leopards (home), Cape Town City (away), Maritzburg United (away) and Highlands Park (away).
However, Kaizer Chiefs v Mamelodi Sundowns is the encounter that could decide the destiny of this season’s Absa Premiership crown. With the Soweto giants fans craving silverware, the pressure will be on the current log leaders to do the double over their fierce Tshwane rivals when they meet, subject to the league resuming.
Due to the sudden impact of the Coronavirus and the lockdown, players from both camps have had to train at home, in self-isolation. With this turn of events, the physical and psychological states of both squads will be unknown once the league returns.
What will be their respective fitness levels be and will they be 100% mentally focused?
It remains to be seen which teams will be in a better condition at the restart of the league, but what we do know is that Masandawana are the most experienced side in the PSL, with an average age of 28.9. Pitso Mosimane’s men have also formed a winning culture, picking up three league titles in the last four seasons.
In the Chiefs camp, however, with an average age of 27.4, most of the squad members are not yet proven title winners. Ernst Middendorp will be aware of this, relying heavily on his crop of 2014/15 league-winning veterans, namely Itumeleng Khune, Willard Katsande, George Maluleka, Erick Mathoho, and Bernard Parker to lead South Africa’s most successful club side to their first title in five years.
Will Sundowns’ more experienced squad give them the edge once the teams do resume? Mosimane’s team has ground out results over the last four seasons.. they know what it takes to win. Will that be the edge during these unprecedented times?
As it stands, the Glamour Boys are four points clear at the league summit, and despite the Brazilians’ game in hand, it is a game they still have to win. The showdown at FNB could answer the big question of where the title ends up at the end of the season.
The PSL have set June 30th as their desired conclusion to the league season, though with the extended lockdown, there is no confirmed date on when domestic football will return and finish.
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