by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – HALFWAY into the season, it is anybody’s game in the upper and lower ends of the table as well as the top eight as the race for the Absa Premiership hots up at the halfway stage.
At the commencement of the second round of fixtures early January, there is increasing intensity among some football teams to finish at the summit and the chasing pack plotting to topple the leaders, Kaizer Chiefs.
All top five clubs comprising Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits, Supersport United and Highlands Park- have potential to win the league title.
It is equally intense at the wrong end of the table as troubled sides are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to survive the potential chop when the season ends.
The battle to finish in the top eight is still open even with the teams wallowing at the bottom places have a chance of snatching berths in the top half of the 16-team table and qualifying for the lucrative MTN 8 next season.
On Tuesday evening, defending champions Sundowns and Bidvest Wits played to a goalless draw at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the capital Pretoria.
The fact that none of the sides, placed second and third respectively, secured maximum points might have Chiefs and breathing a sigh of relief as it affords them an opportunity to open a six-point lead when they host unpredictable Highlands at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.
The game will mark Chiefs’ 50th anniversary celebration. A carnival is anticipated after the Amakhosi confirmed fans will be allowed free access to the giant stadium.
On Tuesday, Soweto rivals, Orlando Pirates continued their revival under new German coach Josef Zinnbauer.
The 4-1 win over Polokwane City at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane further heaped pressure on the relegation-threatened Limpopo side.
Wednesday’s matches kick off at 19h30.
This includes the fixture between supercharged SuperSport United, who burst Chiefs bubble over weekend in Mbombela, hosting newly-transformed Maritzburg United at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.
Precariously-placed Black Leopards host coach Norman Mapeza’s ever-improving Chippa United at Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo.
Wounded Golden Arrows entertain bottom-of-the table Baroka FC at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban.
The struggling pair of Cape Town City and AmaZulu clash at Cape Town Stadium aware of the danger zone they both occupy.
Action resumes on Saturday as Highlands host Stellenbosch at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa.
Baroka will lock horns with Polokwane City in a Limpopo derby at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Chippa United will also welcome Maritzburg United at Sisa Dukashe Stadium, in the Eastern Cape province.
All matches kick off at 15h30.
On Sunday, Kaizer Chiefs will host Cape Town City at FNB Stadium, Bloemfontein Celtic will entertain Leopards at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein while AmaZulu will be at home to SuperSport United at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban.
WEDNESDAY, January 8
SuperSport United Vs Maritzburg United, Lucas Moripe Stadium (19h30)
Black Leopards Vs Chippa United, Thohoyandou Stadium (19h30)
Golden Arrows Vs Baroka FC, Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium (19h30)
Cape Town City FC Vs AmaZulu FC, Cape Town Stadium (19h30)
Kaizer Chiefs Vs Highlands Park, FNB Stadium (19h30)
SATURDAY, January 11
Highlands Park Vs Stellenbosch, Makhulong Stadium (15h30)
Baroka FC Vs Polokwane City, Peter Mokaba Stadium (15h30)
Chippa United Vs Maritzburg United, Sisa Dukashe Stadium (20h15)
SUNDAY, January 12
Kaizer Chiefs Vs Cape Town City, FNB Stadium (15h30)
Bloemfontein Celtic Vs Black Leopards, Dr Molemela Stadium (15h30)
AmaZulu FC Vs SuperSport United, King Zwelithini Stadium (15h30).
– CAJ News