Golden Arrows v Orlando Pirates – Saturday 19th May – Moses Mabhida (15:00)
The ABSA Premiership is a two-horse race that goes right down to the wire this Saturday. The final match of the season will see either Orlando Pirates become the first back-to-back treble winners in South African soccer history or Moroka Swallows hoist aloft the trophy, making Gordon Igesund the first coach to win the league with five different teams.
Premiership leaders Orlando Pirates go into the final day two points ahead of second-placed Moroka Swallows. The Bucs will be champions if they beat Golden Arrows at Moses Mabhida Stadium but if Pirates either lose or draw, and Swallows beat Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg, the Birds will win their first title league title since their solitary success in 1965.
Pirates have their destiny in their own hands after coming from behind to beat Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 in the penultimate premiership round last weekend. Swallows were momentarily top of the log after leading 2-0 against Platinum Stars in the first-half while Pirates were still trailing Celtic 1-0. However, two second-half goals propelled them back to the Premiership summit.
Pirates have been poor on the road with a negative 3 goal difference, which is poor for a team at the top of the table. However, Durban is considered a second home for the Buccaneers who will have a capacity filled Moses Mabhida behind them and Arrows would feel as though they are the away team. The Buccaneers are unbeaten in all home matches this season. They have beaten Arrows in the last four league matches and with so much at stake are tipped to rise to the occasion and lift the PSL trophy.
Maritzburg United v Moroka Swallows – Saturday 19th May – Harry Gwala Stadium (15:00)
Moroka Swallows have worked hard and deserve to be where they are. Gordon Igesund, arguably South Africa’s best-ever coach, has done wonders with a team that escaped relegation on the last day of last season, and lifted them to challenge for the title this season. He has brought in a few experienced players and used his younger players well to achieve a great team that has gone from strength to strength this season. Players like Siyabonga Nomvethe, David Mathebula, Sibaya Chunene and Joseph Makhanya bring the experience of winning trophies to the side.
Moroka Swallows’ 34-year-old goal-poacher Siyabonga “Bhele” Nomvethe, who bagged a brace in Swallows’ 2-1 win over Platinum Stars last weekend is only a step away from lifting the Absa Premiership Player of the Season award after being nominated as one of three star performers this season. Nomvethe’s sizzling form has now forced Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane to consider him for a call-up. The striker will also walk away with the Top Goal Scorer award worth R75000 as he has 20 goals, eight more than the second top scorer, Eleazar Rodgers, of Santos. Nomvethe was nominated alongside his teammate David Mathebula and Orlando Pirates’ defender Siyabonga Sangweni for Player of the Season. Coach Gordon Igesund, bidding for a record fifth title with as many clubs, has been nominated and is favourite to win the Coach of the Season award.
Maritzburg United have had a rocky season but have been somewhat of the giant killers in league and have recorded home victories over both Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.
Swallows pose a dangerous attacking threat and haven’t been beaten in the second round of the league but it won’t be easy getting a win in Maritzburg and coach Ernst Middendorp will want to have a part to play when the spotlight is on his team this Saturday. It was the very same Maritzburg outfit who shattered Ajax’s dream of winning the title on the final day of last season, in Cape Town. They’ve done Pirates a favour before. Can lightning strike twice? The draw is tipped.