/ 20 September 2007

PSL action hots up over weekend

Orlando Pirates travel to Durban for their Premier Soccer League (PSL) clash with Golden Arrows this weekend, while SuperSport United host Bidvest Wits in another big match.

Pirates, fresh from their first home victory, travel to Chatsworth to face an Arrows side who will not easily succumb.

The Bucs are still second from the bottom but could leap to mid-table if they beat their hosts. However, Arrows are a side known for their competitive temperament — especially against the Soweto giants. After a slow and disappointing start to the season, Pirates would want to continue where they left off against Santos.

Also in Durban, Benoni Premier United welcome the high-flying Free State Stars who have scored the most goals, seven, thus far. Stars are unbeaten too, while Benoni are rooted at the bottom after four consecutive losses. Stars should maintain their form against, clearly, the PSL’s worst side.

In Pretoria, SuperSport United host Wits, who beat Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in their first few league games. However, their recent loss to Mamelodi Sundowns showed they are not flawless and SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt would do well to analyse their game against the defending league champions. Hunt’s team, on the other hand, have stuttered in the league and are 11 places below the fourth-placed Clever Boys.

A win for Wits would boost their place upfront with the likes of Ajax and Bloemfontein Celtic, while United have to find their way out of the bottom half.

Further up north, Black Leopards welcome Amazulu to their kraal. The latter started the season with a bang when they beat Sundowns in their opening fixture but then failed to find the same form as they lost two games and drew one since their unexpected victory.

Leopards have two wins and two losses and find themselves among the front-runners of the 2007/08 season. The tragic loss of their captain, Fernando Matola, has obviously affected the players and while they may deal with his death in time, it will be hard to replace an integral part of the defence that collapsed when Stars beat them 2-0 on Wednesday.

It is vital, though, that they bounce back — and what better place than in front of their supporters? If coach Boebie Solomons gets the morale and formation right, then Leopards will be unbeatable in Giyani.

On Sunday, Jomo Cosmos welcome the loaded Platinum Stars to the dusty Mehlareng Stadium, a venue that is hardly fit for the royalty that awarded Stars their riches in the off-season. Nevertheless, the humble Cosmos compensate for what they cannot show off the pitch by robust tackles and grit on the harsh field.

Only a point separates the clubs on the league table and while they have not set the domestic scene alight, they have the chance to forage upfront when they clash.

The winner, like the loser, will finish this game battered and bruised as both sides do not shy away from making their presence felt. The residents of Tembisa can expect end-to-end stuff, and hopefully a few goals. — Sapa