Editor's Blog 12.12.2017 09:58 am

The smart money must be on Sundowns

Percy Tau of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates a goal with teammates during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium. (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix)

Percy Tau of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates a goal with teammates during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium. (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix)

In this Absa Premiership title race that nobody seemed to really want to take part in, finally a side has assumed control and it is hardly surprising that Pitso Mosimane’s Mamelodi Sundowns have emerged as clear favourites to lift a second league title in three seasons.

Masandawana, indeed, are in danger of quickly turning this into no title race at all, a one-horse show of force from the men in yellow. After a slow start, Mosimane’s men have won four and drawn one of their last five league games, surging clear, with games in hand on all of those below them, except SuperSport United.

Matsatsantsa would go top if they won all of the three games in hand they have on Sundowns but the signs are that Eric Tinkler’s side are starting to tire following an exhausting passage to the Caf Confederation Cup final. Perhaps, after the Christmas break, SuperSport will emerge rejuvenated and it will become a titanic Tshwane tussle for the title.

This is probably the best neutrals can hope for, as Bidvest Wits are nowhere to be seen, or rather they can only be seen if you dip your head and look at the bottom of the table. Gavin Hunt says on these pages that the Clever Boys are playing better football this season than they were last season, when they won the title, in the process taking Monty Python’s song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life to its extremity.

Wits are are 11 points behind Sundowns, and have played two games more, and I think we can pretty much kiss their championship credentials good by.

As for Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, they sit second and third in the table respectively, but that is really only down to others’ inadequacies than their own attributes. Both have won just four of 14 league matches, and it is hard to see them finding the kind of consistency that Sundowns are now showing.

While both sides have been decent at the back this season, both have been horribly goal-shy – averaging less than a goal a game, as Amakhosi and the Buccaneers do right now, is not going to get you close to a league title.

Baroka FC, meanwhile, are fading away after a bright start, and I just hope they don’t get dragged into the relegation mire. They have time at Christmas to take stock and maybe reinforce their squad in January. Bloemfontein Celtic are also impressing under Veselin Jelusic, but I am not sure they have the wherewithal to last the course.

Sundowns, on the other hand, are the best resourced side in the country, and have proven their ability to fight out a title battle time and time again under Mosimane.

They were slowed last year by their victory in the 2016 Caf Champions League and their participation in the 2016 Fifa Club World Cup, but I see no hindrances this time around.

In this week’s Phakaaathi, we hear from Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, and from midfielder Hlompho Kekana, who yesterday picked up the Absa Premiership Player-of-the-Month Award for November. Phakaaathi’s own readers ultimately voted for Celtic’s Kabelo Mahlasela.

We also speak to Dean Furman about his own title ambitions with SuperSport United, and hear from Matsatsantsa coach Eric Tinkler.

Enjoy

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