Editor's Blog 20.9.2016 10:13 am

PSL pile pressure on the Brazilians

Sundowns players celebrating. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Sundowns players celebrating. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

There has been a lot of talk of late about how unfairly Mamelodi Sundowns are being treated by the Premier Soccer League in their bid to win the 2016 Caf Champions League.

The debate revolves around the PSL’s refusal to move fixtures to give the Brazilians more breathing space to prepare for their semifinal against Zambia’s Zesco United.

The Brazilians had to play a league game at Martizburg United just a few days before the first leg of their semi against Zesco in Ndola on Saturday, and this week they will play their MTN8 semifinal, second leg against Chippa United on Wednesday, before hosting Zesco in their Champions League return leg on Saturday.

Most detractors of the PSL point to the leeway Orlando Pirates were given in their bids to win the 2013 Caf Champions League and the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup, and they have a point. Pirates had games postponed and it has not gone unnoticed that the chairman of the PSL, Irvin Khoza, just happens to be the chairman of Pirates too.

But I also want to play Devil’s Advocate a little here and say that I hope that if Sundowns are knocked out of the Champions League by Zesco, short thrift is given to fixture congestion as an excuse.

After all, teams all over the world play Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, all the time and you rarely, if ever hear anyone complaining about unfair treatment. If anything, the treatment given to Orlando Pirates was excessively lax and the treatment given to Sundowns is just following normal procedure, as per football all over the planet.

Sundowns are, in a way, victims of their own success, as reaching the MTN8 semifinals has planted two games in their way that they would otherwise not have had to play. You just cannot have it both ways and be a trophy-chasing club with no fixture issues.

I do think Sundowns have every chance to reach both the MTN8 final and the Champions League final this week, given the playing resources at coach Pitso Mosimane’s disposal and given his abilities as a coach. Sundowns have to be commended for making the most of their Champions League second chance, and I am backing them to pick up the 1-0 win they need on Saturday evening.

We take a look at Sundowns’ busy week on Page 8.

Kaizer Chiefs would certainly take a 1-0 win at this point, in fact they would probably take any sort of win right now. Tomorrow they take on Highlands Park and Collins Mbesuma, whose appetite for goals seems to show no sign of dying down, as evidenced in his words opposite.

Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi we interview Tyroane Sandows, the unluckiest man of South Africa’s Rio Olympic mission – the Brazil-based attacking midfielder couldn’t get a single second on the pitch under Owen da Gama, but he has no bitter feelings about it.

We also wrap up the action in the National First Division, where AmaZulu launched a remarkable comeback at Mthatha Bucks. And we look ahead to all the other Absa Premiership action this week, as the season again gets into full swing.

Finally, due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to announce any Mgosi airtime winners in today’s edition. But the competition is still running and look out for the keyword in the advert on Page 10 to see how to enter this week!

Enjoy!

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results

Chiefs 1-0 Wits
Sundows 2-2 Highlands
Arrows 2-1 Pirates

fixtures

psl log

# Team GP Pts
1 Bidvest Wits 30 60
2 Sundowns 30 57
3 Cape Town City 30 55
4 Kaizer Chiefs 30 50
5 SuperSport United 30 48
6 Polokwane City 30 43
7 Maritzburg Utd 30 38
8 Arrows 30 38
9 Platinum Stars 30 37
10 Ajax Cape Town 30 36
11 Orlando Pirates 30 33
12 Bloemfontein Celtic 30 29
13 Chippa United 30 28
14 Free State Stars 30 28
15 Baroka FC 30 28
16 Highlands Park 30 27

poll