Former Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns defender Matthew Booth believes that the Absa Premiership title race will go down to the wire. Bidvest Wits top the log with 37 points, followed by Sundowns with 34 points and three games in hand. Orlando Pirates are third with 33 points and one game in hand.
The situation at the foot of the table is just as interesting, with none of the five bottom sides safe from automatic relegation.
The 2018/19 Premiership race is heading for a photo finish. All three teams at the top are on fire and with between 10 and 13 matches to go before the end of the season, anything is possible.
Booth says the three top teams are favourites to win the coveted title, but the so-called small teams will always be around to spoil the party.
“I think everybody obviously was talking about the derby, but I think the result that stood for me was the Highlands-Wits result. I think Wits had to get a win to sort of starve off the challenge of Sundowns. I think the happiest person over the weekend was definitely Pitso and his team. I think Highlands must be given credit. I think a lot of people don’t give them enough credit from a tactical point of view and they just talk about hard work and hard work, but they are more than that.”
Sundowns are second on the log, three points behind Wits, but have played three matches less than the students. However, matches in hand are not guaranteed points. The Brazilians have potential season defining matches coming up, they take on Polokwane City on Tuesday and log leaders Wits four days later.
The battle to avoid relegation is also heating up. Bottom of the log Maritzburg United trail Black Leopards who are 12th on the log, by just six points.
Booth says it will be interesting for the teams facing relegation.
“I think it’s still too early because Sundowns still have to get the points, but certainly they are in the pound seat at the moment. So, for me it’s more interesting at the bottom where I felt that if Maritzburg didn’t get the result they did get, I think that would have been probably one of the nails in the coffin you know. To be able to play at home against Polokwane, they desperately needed those three points and it shows what that team is capable of.”
Besides the league title, Sundowns are also campaigning in Africa’s premier club competition, the CAF Champions League. This time the 2016 champions are not alone; they are doing it along with 1995 champions, Orlando Pirates.
“More importantly, both squads have had recent good experiences where they have gone far in the tournament so that bodes well as well. If you were like a Chiefs or Wits going there for the first or second time you know. I wouldn’t say the same thing because as a squad you do need that experience over two or three years before you can progress.”
The Absa Premiership resumes next week, with the focus shifting to the Nedbank Cup this weekend.