by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – MAMELODI Sundowns might have wrapped a record eighth league title but the battle to finish inside the top four, the fight to avoid relegation and the race to win the top goal scorer award will all go to the wire.
With the championship race done and dusted and Orlando Pirates finishing second, attention shifts to third and fourth, currently occupied by Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzburg United respectively.
Sundowns wrapped the league title in style following their 3-1 convincing victory over relegation-haunted Ajax Cape Town over the past weekend.
They have amassed an unassailable 59 points from 29 matches while Pirates have managed 52 points.
Chiefs (45 points), have secured the top four but the other berth will be a contest among Maritzburg (43 points), Cape Town City (40 points) and Free State Stars (40 points).
Maritzburg are favourites with an enormous goal advantage (13).
A lot is at stake with the teams that finish inside the top four representing the country in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions.
The battle to finish in the top eight is also extreme as it guarantees participation in the lucrative season-opening MTN 8.
With Platinum Stars relegated, the battle to avoid the dreaded playoffs is more intense.
The team that finishes 15th will be involved in the taxing playoff with sides that finish second and third in the national first division.
Ajax occupy the berth but Baroka, Polokwane City and SuperSport United are not safe.
Only three points separate Ajax and Baroka who are 12th.
The last games are therefore must-wins to ensure safety although Baroka can survive with a draw.
The race for the Golden Boot will also be decided on the final day.
Pacesetters Percy Tau of Sundowns and Polokwane’s Rodney Ramagalela have 11 goals each.
Gift Motupa of Baroka FC with nine goals, and the Zimbabwean pair of Evans Rusike (SuperSport United) and Khama Billiat (Sundowns) both with eight goals are also in contention.
The curtains come down Absa Premiership on May 12.
Maritzburg and Golden Arrows lock horns in the KwaZulu Natal derby at Harry Gwala Stadium.
Ajax will host Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium while Pirates will entertain Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium.
First division-bound Platinum Stars will host dethroned champions Bidvest Wits at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rusternburg.
The new champions (Sundowns) will be away to Bloemfontein Celtic at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.
AmaZulu will play Cape Town City at King Zwelithini Stadium while Polokwane host Chippa United at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
All matches kick-off at 15h00.
Full fixture below:
SATURDAY, 12th May 2018
Maritzburg United vs Golden Arrows (Harry Gwala
Ajax Cape Town vs Kaizer Chiefs (Cape Town Stadium)
Orlando Pirates vs Free State Stars (Orlando Stadium)
SuperSport United vs Baroka FC (Lucas Moripe Stadium)
Platinum Stars vs Bidvest Wits (Royal Bafokeng Stadium,)
Bloemfontein Celtic vs Mamelodi Sundowns (Dr Molemela Stadium)
AmaZulu FC vs Cape Town City FC (King Zwelithini Stadium)
Polokwane City vs Chippa United (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium)