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SA SOCCER NEWS
Title race entering the final lap 25/04/05
With the league race heating up, SASoccer365's Patrick Zikalala looks at the challenges facing the top three teams and their chances of winning the coveted title.

The league is in the crucial stages as top teams are left with four, six and three games respectively. No games are predictable these days as Santos showed by beating Pirates on Saturday night.

If you would have asked any kid few weeks ago as to who will win the league you would have got a quick answer "Orlando Pirates" - not anymore.

The Buccaneers are still on top with 52 points and have four tough games to go. Their remaining matches are against fellow title contenders, Kaizer Chiefs, the rejuvenated Ajax Cape Town, an unpredictable Wits University and on form Bush Bucks.

Orlando Pirates` losing streak is not helping their title cause and neither is it helping the confidence or the morale of their youthful players. Their recent loss against Santos came at a very wrong time and they know that their game against Chiefs is a must win as a loss to Chiefs will ensure that the title remains at Phefeni.

Wits have always given them a hard times and their best result against the Students is always a draw. The fact that Wits are fighting relegation wont make life easier for the Happy People. Also on their 'still to play games list' is Bush Bucks who are on top form having ended Swallows' unbeaten run at Rand Stadium of two years and then also beat Dynamos on their home soil by the same score: 3-2.

What can stop Pirates from being Imbabala's next victims?  It really does not look any good for the Happy People. Happiness does not look to be on its way for the mighty Bucs.

Downs are lying second with only three games to go. Neil Tovey once admitted that they are out of the championship running, but Bucs' recent losing streak have brought them back into the equation and given their current form one may be led to believe that they will fight to the very end.

They still have to play neighbours Supersport United (who had beaten them twice this season), Wits University and Ajax Cape Town. Wits did beat them in the Coke Cup but they drew goalless in the league first round. The Brazilians beat Ajax four-nil in the first round. Wits are running away from relegation and United have a tight schedule as they are still in the Caf competition and also in the Absa cup and Pitso Mosimane has mentioned that this season his concentration is the cup competitions. It will be fair to think that Downs will get revenge over Supersport United. If their current form is anything to go by, Downs will win all their remaining games.

Kaizer Chiefs are lying third, six points shy on leaders Orlando Pirates with also with six games to go. In the past Chiefs have had a chance of closing up the gap on Orlando Pirates but they failed.

Looking at the games they are yet to play, things do not look too rosy for them either. They are playing unpredictable Wits tomorrow, Pirates on the weekend, as well as the 'on and off' Swallows, their hoodoo team SuperSport United, on form Bush Bucks and Bloemfontein Celtic.

I still need to be convinced that Chiefs will close the gap on Pirates this time. If Chiefs need to defend their title they need to make sure they beat both Wits and Pirates this week. Wits and Chiefs clashes are always unpredictable and with Wits fighting relegation Chiefs are likely to bite the dust or get a draw as Wits are the draw kings anyway.

Orlando Pirates might have lost against Santos but their next two games against Chiefs and Ajax are very important and should they grab maximum points in those games, they will surely end up as champions.

Downs are in there but it might be too little too late for them. Chiefs are the defending champions and Ted has defended the title before when no one gave him a chance while still at Downs, so I say Ted will defend the title this time around if he beats Pirates and Wits this week. 

After the next two games one will be in a better position to foretell the league title `s destination.
                                                                                                 
By: Patrick Zikalala


 

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