Absa Premiership leaders Bidvest Wits meet second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns in a potentially king-making or breaking title clash at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday evening.
The match will see two freight trains – Gavin Hunt’s 2016-17 champions Wits‚ and Pitso Mosimane’s 2017-18 PSL winners Sundowns – collide head-on at full speed.
SowetanLIVE identifies three key match-ups (should all these players start) for this epic clash:
Deon Hotto v Lyle Lakay
Lakay is yet another of Mosimane’s wingers converted to a full-back at Sundowns. The player he competes with for left-back‚ Tebogo Langerman‚ was too.
Lakay‚ though‚ so far has looked less defensively suspect than Langerman‚ though with around the same attacking ability on the overlap and in crossing.
Hotto‚ the tricky Namibian winger‚ can be inconsistent‚ but has the most pace and penetration of any of Wits’ dangerous frontline when he’s on song.
Hlompho Kekana v Thabang Monare
Monare could well be the leading candidate for Player of the Season for Wits in their central midfield. He and Cole Alexander have established a lethal partnership – Alexander as the destroyer‚ Monare with more skill and a pass‚ and both with mammoth work-rates closing the spaces.
Kekana – everyone knows Kekana‚ and what the Downs captain is capable of. The most consistent defensive midfielder in the country‚ with the best all-round game‚ and a spectacular goal-scorer extraordinaire. Perhaps he only loses out to SuperSport United’s Dean Furman for Bafana Bafana’s DM position because of a yard of pace missing at international level‚ which Monare will aim to exploit.
Themba Zwane v Thulani Hlatshwayo
Themba Zwane is the best player in the league this season. Period. He’s this season’s Percy Tau. Clive Barker’s early comparisons with Doctor Khumalo no longer seem far-fetched.
He is consistently the most dangerous creator of goals‚ usually on the left wing for Sundowns‚ even though he’s right-footed‚ where he cuts in. And he scores them too. His finish can be deadly.
He is up against his Bafana Bafana captain‚ and Wits’ skipper-fantastic. Hlatshwayo has been moved back out to right-back from centreback by Wits coach Gavin Hunt this season‚ in an effective remedy to last season’s defensive woes. It makes for four big men at the back – Hlatshwayo; Robyn Johannes and Buhle Mkhwanazi in the middle‚ and Sifiso Hlanti on the left.
Hlatshwayo is one of the fiercest tacklers in the PSL. What will happen when that thunderous rhino charge meets Zwane’s gazelle-like beauty on the ball? Earthquakes‚ we predict.
PSL this weekend
Chippa United 1 Lamontville Golden Arrows 1
Polokwane City v Kaizer Chiefs (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Cape Town City v Maritzburg United (Athlone Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Bidvest Wits v Mamelodi Sundowns (Bidvest Stadium‚ 6pm)
Orlando Pirates v AmaZulu (Orlando Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
SuperSport United v Baroka FC (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
Bloemfontein Celtic v Free State Stars (Dr Molemela Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
Black Leopards v Highlands Park (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3.30pm)