PSL Games Return
After a break of over seven weeks, the Absa Premiership resumes this week with a full programme of fixtures across the country as leaders Kaizer Chiefs look to take another step towards the title.
Amakhosi are unbeaten after 18 games in the 2014/15 championship and the Soweto side will be looking to extend their immaculate start to the season when they travel to 10th-placed Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.
Stuart Baxter’s men hold what many of their rivals have already called an ‘unassailable’ 15 point advantage ahead of the trip to the Free State Stadium.
But the Briton is not taking anything for granted and expects normal service to resume for his side.
“The next stretch of the league plus the break are the challenges we have to overcome,” he said. “We knew at some stage the games will come thick and fast and we will try to be as competitive as possible.
“I won’t lose sleep if we drop a point here and there, similarly I will not celebrate yet if we gain points, the league is a long way to go.”
Their closest challengers at present are defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who start out at home on Tuesday night when they welcome fourth from bottom Moroka Swallows to the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.
The Brazilians will still quietly believe they can catch Chiefs, especially if they can win their game in hand.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, a top-eight battle looms at the Harry Gwala Stadium in the KwaZulu-Natal capital where seventh-place Maritzburg United host Bidvest Wits, presently in third position and also 15 points adrift of the leaders.
Mid-table sides University of Pretoria and Chippa United, who have a news coach in Ernst Middendorp, clash at the Tuks Stadium in the other fixture on the opening night of 2015 Absa Premiership action.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Orlando Pirates in fourth position travel to a much-changed AmaZulu team, who made no fewer than five high-profile January signings.
Usuthu are a distant bottom on the table and coach Steve Barker will be hoping his new arrivals can help make an immediate impact at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“I hope we can hit the ground running,” he said. “We don’t have too much of a choice, do we? It will be a tough start, but hopefully we can come out and make a positive start that will lift everyone at the club.”
Another club that went on a heavy recruitment drive, SuperSport United, in an unfancied 11th place play host Free State Stars in Pretoria.
Fifth-place Ajax Cape Town will be involved in action in the Mother City when they play Polokwane City, who are surprisingly sixth.
Urban Warriors coach knows the importance of a solid start to the year.
“We obviously want to start as close to full strength as we possibly can, just like we started at the beginning of the season,” he said. “February is a very important month for us and the outcome of our matches could shape the rest of our season.”
Finally, second-last Platinum Stars will face Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.