I have actually had my guess on Page 8, and predicted Mamelodi Sundowns as my pick to win the title. I just think Pitso Mosimane’s side have a better-looking run in than the other five contenders, and games in hand on most of them too. But a guess is all it is – after all, if picking the results of sporting events was easy, there would be no betting industry. There is also an added difficulty in picking a winner this year because of the disparity in games played among the top five. Cape Town City are leading the way, and Kaizer Chiefs are second, but they have played more games than the other challengers, making their positions, at this stage, slightly false.
If my head says Sundowns for the title, my heart meanwhile, would actually like Cape Town City to win it, because as a neutral when it comes to South African club football, I do love a good fairy tale.
It is safe to say that nobody would have picked Eric Tinkler’s side for the title at the start of the season, even if the bulk of his squad was made up of the MP Black Aces side that came fourth in the 2015/16 campaign. City have played some enthralling football from the off, lifting the Telkom Knockout title, and more than holding their own in the title race.
The only real blip, indeed, for the Citizens was the Nedbank Cup defeat to Acornbush United and thank you, by the way, to the readers who wrote in to explain where the name “Acornbush” comes from (see Pages 4 and 5). After my query in this editorial last week, I am delighted to find that there is a very rational explanation.
The title race certainly hots up this week, as City face Wits and Sundowns take on SuperSport tomorrow night, with plenty more games to come between the league’s top five in the coming weeks.
We have all the latest from around these clubs in this week’s Phakaaathi, including the Chiefs camp, where Steve Komphela is really starting to make his mark. I was certainly among those wondering where Amakhosi were going under Komphela at one point, they are now mounting a serious title challenge. Komphela even seems able to predict goalscorers for his side, a mystic quality that while not essential, has to be useful for any coach.
On Page 8, meanwhile, we also look at the relegation battle, with a real bun-fight developing at the bottom of the table. Baroka FC looked destined for the drop a few weeks ago, but they have really narrowed the gap, and for me any of five or six sides could still finish bottom. For Phakaaathi writer Tshepo Ntsoelengoe’s views, see inside.
In our regular One-on-One feature this week we speak to Golden Arrows’ tall attacker Andile Fikizolo, who also fancies himself as a musician. Arrows have had a pretty good season under Clinton Larsen, meanwhile, sitting just outside the title contenders.
We also look at the National First Division, with Thanda Royal Zulu extremely close to the promotion finish line. And in our Mgosi section, we look at what might be next for Teko Modise, and whether Pirates will hold on to Ayanda Nkosi for next season.