|Every point: Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter|
TONIGHT Orlando Pirates play the team now known as Choppa United. Tomorrow night PSL leaders and title favourites Kaizer Chiefs play a desperate Ajax Cape Town.
For Capetonians, this could represent the beginning of the end for top flight football at the nation’s southern tip. Wins for the two Soweto giants at the squeaky bottom end of the season are vital and almost certain.
Stuart Baxter and Roger de Sa won’t be concerned in the slightest about the fate of the nation’s southernmost footballing outpost. Santos went down last season, Chippa sacked an estimated five coaches this summer and once-compelling Ajax have become, in the words of chairman George Comitis, a Greek Tragedy.
Only the incompetence of Limpopo’s spotty Leopards can save Cape Town from the ignominy of falling out of South Africa’s footballing top flight completely.
Tonight the Buccaneers, who travel to the DR Congo on Saturday for the second leg of their African Champions League last 16 tie with TP Mazembe, MUST destroy Mr Mpengesi’s men. The Pirates’ squeaky win over Wits on Saturday – Sifiso Myeni’s late, late goal ended a run of SIX successive PSL draws – should have raised spirits and Benni McCarthy is back.
And 24 hours later, Chiefs know that failure in Cape Town will see the champions and double-treble winners close to just four points behind with the mythical game in hand.
At the same time, Platinum Stars, who held Chiefs 0-0 in Polokwane on Sunday, play Maritzburg United. A victory for the Dikwena will keep them snapping at the heels of the Soweto giants.
Pirates then play Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns on Saturday, May 11 and relegation-threatened Leopards on Wednesday, May 15. The Sea Robbers close their campaign against Maritzburg United on the 18th.
Chiefs have got Gavin Hunt’s hard-to-beat SuperSport United on the 15th, with AmaTuks to finish on the 18th.
Platinum Stars run-in features Golden Arrows on the 11th and finally, SSU on the 18th.
Even if Orlando Pirates win their last four they can only get to 61 points. Platinum Stars should win two of their last three to hit 57 points (including the obligatory draw with SSU).
But Kaizer Chiefs WILL not lose tomorrow night. They’ll beat Ajax, draw with SuperSport and end with a win at AmaTuks. That will give the AmaKhosi 63 points and that long-awaited PSL title. Even a draw on the final day will give Chiefs 61 points and their goal difference (30 to 16) is vastly superior to Pirates.
Baxter knows it. They haven't won it since 2005, but the man from Wolverhampton admits: “If I’d been a fan at the Platinum Stars game, I’d have expected better entertainment. We started to play the long ball, that’s not really our way.
“Still, if you'd told me at the start of the season we would be top of the league with three matches left I would have taken it. If we keep playing, keep focused, I believe we can do it.”
And just in case complacency creeps in, he can tell his players what Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson said: “We will keep fighting. We have got a taste for this. If Kaizer Chiefs slip up, we’ll be ready…”
This will appear as my "Neal and Pray" column in www.thenewage.co.za on Tuesday morning.