Orlando Pirates host relegation-threatened Baroka tonight in their third league match since the restart. Baroka are one point above the relegation zone on 24 points with only five games to play.
Three other teams are on 23 points, and Baroka may find themselves at the foot of the table by the end of the week if results don’t go their way. To say they have a lot to play for would be an understatement – they have everything to play for. Their bid to escape relegation looks even harder when you look at their fixture list:
4 – Four of Baroka’s last five opponents are teams currently occupying the top four positions on the league table (Pirates, Sundowns, SuperSport and Kaizer Chiefs).
On the other hand, Pirates are not in a relegation battle and may not have as much pressure for a result. In fact, by the time Pirates play tonight, they may need just one win in their last five games to secure a Top 8 spot. The reality is, they still have a mathematical chance to win the league.
But Chiefs need just two wins (or a Pirates loss and a Chiefs win) to make that an impossibility. For many fans, that is not a realistic target.
That said, second place is still possible and would be a step in the right direction, given the difficulties they faced in the first half of the season.
Pirates can cut the gap between themselves and Sundowns to one point with a win tonight, although Sundowns will still have two games in hand. This may be a more reasonable target.
A third target for Pirates may be to exceed their points total from last season (57). Another target may be qualifying for the CAF competitions. All these would indicate that there is still a lot to play for.
Yet, any (or even all) of these targets need goals, and of late, Pirates have found those hard to come by. They have now failed to score in four successive games. This is the first time this has happened since 2016/17, and the current run includes three successive 0-0 draws. Pirates will be looking to avoid another negative record:
1 – Only once in their PSL history have Pirates failed to score in 5 successive games.
Bidvest Wits v Golden Arrows
Gavin Hunt and Wits will be in search of their first win of the restart, following two draws and a defeat. Their restart fixtures have been some of the hardest games any team could play – Sundowns (Nedbank Cup), Pirates and Chiefs in the space of a week. Hunt and his team will be happier (and probably fitter) to face Golden Arrows.
Their opponents lost 1-0 “away” to Stellenbosch on Saturday, continuing a miserable record in away matches. Arrows have beaten just two teams (Baroka twice and AmaZulu) in away games since Steve Komphela joined the club in December 2018. Playing in the bubble presents a great opportunity for them to brighten up that sombre record. While they’ll be looking to end that record, history has not been on their side:
1 – Golden Arrows have beaten Wits once in their last 20 league encounters since 2009, drawing five and losing the other 14.
One of those Arrows defeats came in Gavin Hunt’s first league win in charge of Wits back in August 2013. Will he orchestrate a win again, as The Students enter the home stretch of their top-flight career?
Chippa v Highlands Park
Chippa will host Highlands Park on Tuesday afternoon at Orlando Stadium, in search of their first points since the restart.
60% – Highlands Park have won three of their five league clashes against Chippa (60%), the 2nd best win percentage against any side they’ve faced.
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By Opta Jabu