Sat Jun 24 19:20:19 CAT 2017

This season's blockbuster PSL title race would have made Dirty Harry's day

By Marc Strydom | 2017-04-20 12:55:40.0

Wednesday night’s top-of-the-log Absa Premiership results went according to a script that Clint Eastwood might have come up with had he made a movie on the 2016-17 Absa Premiership season.

The Hollywood director of Invictus – Dirty Harry himself – might have turned his hand at scripting this tightest of four-way finishes to the PSL season.

Second-placed Bidvest Wits toughed out a 1-1 draw against leaders Cape Town City away.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ patient 1-0 win against SuperSport United – who defended like their lives depended on it after their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the Brazilians last week – left the defending champions dangerously lurking in fourth.

It also effectively eliminated fifth-placed SuperSport from the race.

The results left the top four as follows: City have 46 points from 24 games‚ Wits 45 from 22‚ Kaizer Chiefs 45 from 24 and Sundowns 44 from 22.

Sundowns and Wits‚ with two of the best squads assembled in the PSL era and two games in hand‚ would appear to have the advantage.

But Downs’ recent run of five games without a win‚ before bouncing back with three victories in a row‚ reinforced that games in hand are by no means points in the bank.

Given the strength of those two – one became SA’s first continental club champions since 1995 in October – City’s chasing of a Leicester City-like dream‚ and Chiefs coach Steve Komphela’s drive to win a trophy at giants‚ and 2016-17 perhaps has the ingredients to be the best PSL season ever.

On pure statistics alone‚ it has been a conservative season.

Compared to the past five‚ so far 2016-17 only ranks fourth in terms of percentage of games won or lost (68 percent) as opposed to drawn (33 percent) – compared to the best in 2014-15 of 74 percent won or lost and 26 percent drawn.

This season ranks lower so far in goals-per game ranked among the past five‚ at fifth place out of six with 1‚13.

The best post-2010 World Cup season in terms of goals was in 2010-11 with 1‚25 per game.

What has interest piqued as the PSL enters its last eight to six matches – apart from the closeness in points – is the strength of squads and technical staff of the top five‚ level of organisation‚ and standard of contest being served up.

City’s charge has seen former Bafana midfield hero Eric Tinkler – who had his ups and downs as coach of Orlando Pirates – emerge as a serious young coach in SA football.

Komphela has finally found some sort of winning rhythm after a year-an-a-half of trying at Chiefs‚ who are well-positioned given they have perhaps the weakest squad on paper of SA’s top four clubs.

Wits coach Gavin Hunt has assembled a super-squad that‚ in any other season‚ like Rafael Nadal to Roger Federer in tennis‚ could have walked the title had it not been for Sundowns.

The Clever Boys are the reason we now speak of a top four in SA‚ where before there was a top three of Chiefs‚ Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

And Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns are simply a super-team‚ with only their continental and global aspirations standing in the way of them running away with the title as they did by 14 points last season.

Only Pirates are missing from the title race‚ having suffered an annus horribilis.

But tighten you seat belts‚ because 2016-17 is set for a breakneck finish. - TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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