Three of this weekend’s most intriguing PSL fixtures

As we head into Matchday 15 of the South African Premier Division soccer action for 2019-20, three fixtures stand out above the rest as particularly crucial in shaping the outcome of the season ahead.

Bidvest Wits vs Cape Town City

Out-of-sorts Cape Town City visit Bidvest Wits at Dobsonville Stadium on Friday. This fixture is worth keeping an eye on because recent trends indicate it could produce an upset. 

Cape Town City have won their last five away games at Bidvest Wits and the Clever Boys have to overcome trying circumstances to halt that run.

For starters, Gavin Hunt’s men have had to make travel arrangements from their last ‘home’ game in Durban against Mamelodi Sundowns in order to host the team from the Mother City. 

Wits’ pitch at Bidvest Stadium is currently unusable due to a new irrigation system and heavy rainfall.

Cape Town City endured a poor start to the season under Benni McCarthy, leading to the dismissal of the iconic coach.

They have not fared much better under new boss Jan Olde Riekerink so far. Despite sorting out their defensive woes, they have not scored in any of the three matches he has presided over since moving to the touchline.

City’s last win was the 5-3 triumph over Polokwane City in early November under the interim guidance of assistant coach Vasili Manousakis.

This fixture presents them with an ideal chance to set the record straight against an opponent still struggling with fatigue after their CAF Confederation Cup exploits.

Wits are clinging onto their title ambitions having managed a 1-1 draw with Mamelodi Sundowns in midweek. The Students are 14 points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs with three games in hand. A defeat to City would put their title challenge in a precarious position.

Highlands Park vs Golden Arrows

Highlands Park and Golden Arrows are each chasing MTN8 spots and struggling a little for form at present. 

Both teams have a chance to put that behind them heading into the new year as they square off on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions of the North have not won a game since October’s 2-0 home win over Chippa United. Owen da Gama’s men currently stand at seven fixtures without a victory.

Golden Arrows, meanwhile, have suffered defeat in three of their last four fixtures, leaving Abafana Bes’thende lagging behind Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.

Even so, Arrows have arguably been the best of the mid-table teams this season. They can go some way towards proving as much with victory over the MTN8 finalists.

Baroka vs Stellenbosch

This vital relegation six-pointer on Saturday afternoon sees Stellenbosch visit the scene of their first ever top flight win. Steve Barker’s men are winless in five fixtures, but Baroka have not won at home in the league in eight.

Baroka in 12th place are only two points above bottom-of-the-table Stellies at present and by no means guaranteed of safety yet. Their survival credentials will be put to the test against the 2018-19 National First Division champions.

Bakgaga survived a stern test in their last game. After going down 2-0 to Orlando Pirates at home, they snatched a point thanks to a Happy Jele own goal and a Gerald Phiri Jnr leveller.

Stellies beat Polokwane City 2-0 on their last visit to Polokwane with goals coming from Waseem Isaacs and Iqraam Rayners. The memory will be fresh in their heads as they seek to do what Pirates could not at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

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Leonard Solms
Leonard Solms is a freelance South African multi-sport journalist who has written for a number of regional, national and international newspapers and websites. He won a Rhodes-Investec Top 100 Award in 2018, the year in which he completed his Bachelor of Journalism at Rhodes University.