Feisty derby and plenty to prove this weekend in the PSL
The Premier Soccer League resumes this weekend with a potentially feisty local derby and a big test for high-flyers Baroka FC.
KweséESPN picks out five things to look out for in the latest round of matches.
Conquering the Cape
That there is no love lost between Cape Town City and Ajax Cape Town is no secret, with the fuel for that fire not just their status as city rivals, but also the fact that the two families who own the clubs, bound by marriage, have had a major falling out. City owner John Comitis was once the main man at Ajax before an acrimonious exit in 2013. He later formed his new club, who debuted in the top-flight last season and managed two wins over Ajax without a goal conceded. City have comfortably the better squad, and a bright young coach in Benni McCarthy, but they will have to show plenty of grit against a determined Ajax, who can make a major statement of their potential in this fixture. A good crowd is expected at the Cape Town Stadium, and the play on the pitch should entertain between two sides who do like attacking football. Given the off-field history between these two, both sets of players will be fired up.
Arrows need to stay sharp
Golden Arrows have been the surprise package of this PSL season so far, and they can consolidate their position at the top with a home win over Chippa United. For coach Clinton Larsen a top eight place is the goal this campaign, but after his fast start, and the failure of the so-called 'big-guns' to fire, he must be perhaps thinking of top four ... or even better? But if they are to achieve that then matches such as Saturday's home fixture against a struggling Chippa United is a must-win. It is the kind of game that promising Arrows teams of the past might lose 2-0; their inconsistency in performance all too evident. And so if Larsen is to show that there is a real change in his team this campaign, and that they can push for honours, then nothing short of three points is necessary.
'Killing' it again ...
Baroka FC coach Kgoloko Thobejane is an amiable fellow with a unique way of getting his point across. He almost coined a catch-phrase last season when he said "football will kill you", while this season his side's fine start has inspired the quote that "we will kill anything in our way". Next in the firing line for the unbeaten Limpopo minnows are Kaizer Chiefs, whose form has been 'so-so' after eight points from the last 12 available with their new tactic of essentially 'parking the bus'. Baroka managed a 1-1 home draw against Orlando Pirates earlier in the season, but otherwise the fixture list has been kind and this is perhaps their first real test of the new season. If they can come through this game it will be a major confidence-booster. They have in their ranks Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo, who recently joined from AmaKhosi as technical director. He knows everything there is to know about how to beat this side and so it will come down to execution on the day from the Baroka players. Will they 'kill it' again?
After a fine start to the season, Fadlu Davids' Maritzburg United have hit a bump in the road in recent weeks with no wins in their last five games in all competitions. They can point to some bad luck -- they were comfortably the better side against Kaizer Chiefs, but ended up losing 2-0. Before that they might have snuck a win against Orlando Prates in a 0-0 draw. Tonight night they welcome Free State Stars to the Harry Gwala Stadium for what should be a home banker, though there are a few riders to that. How has the confidence of the players been affected by their recent poor run, and will they be able to break down a Stars side that has already shown more resilience under new coach Luc Eymael? Also, United have only won three of their previous 18 matches against Stars home and away, a very poor return.
Time to refocus
Mamelodi Sundowns' exit from the CAF Champions League quarterfinals was a major disappointment, but they must refocus quickly on a tricky away match at winless Platinum Stars on Sunday. Stars have been something of a bogey team for Sundowns in the past, and will be fired up to claim a first victory under new coach Roger de Sa. The Brazilians have won just three of their last nine domestic league games if you include the end of last season; a poor run for a team that packs as much quality as they do. Injuries have hurt them in recent times, but slowly top players such as Khama Billiat and Sibusiso Vilakazi appear to be returning to full fitness. Man-for-man this should be no contest, but Sundowns have looked strangely out of sorts at times this season and are perhaps ripe for another slip-up.