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18-team league unlikely as PSL crisis rumbles on

South Africa

Ajax Cape Town ditch Tendai Ndoro

South Africa

PSL returns with Tuesday's heavyweight clashes

South Africa's Premier League returns on Tuesday after a three-week hiatus for cup fixtures and the international break, with clubs hoping to regain some of the momentum they have lost in the interim.

There will be seven matches in this round, with SuperSport United's clash with Ajax Cape Town postponed to allow them time to prepare for the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup final against Tout Puissant Mazembe on Saturday night.

Much of the best action will be on Tuesday night as last season's two main title contenders go head to head, with eventual champions Bidvest Wits hosting Mamelodi Sundowns.

Both have had indifferent starts to the new campaign, though there have been signs that the former are starting to find their rhythm after four wins in their last five matches.

Three of those have come in the Telkom Knockout though, so they remain second bottom of the league and off the pace, though with a third of the campaign gone they trail leaders Baroka FC by nine points, but have a game in hand.

However, with five league matches and the Telkom Knockout to come before the end of 2017, the fortunes of coach Gavin Hunt's side can change very quickly.

Sundowns have been hugely inconsistent by their own high standards, and snapped a three-game losing streak with victory over Orlando Pirates last time out.

Coach Pitso Mosimane suggested the break would be good for them to recharge their bodies and their minds, but they face two more difficult away days after this at Chippa United on Saturday and Lamontville Golden Arrows on December 10 to test their mettle. Orlando Pirates welcome Golden Arrows on Tuesday night having entered a mini slump with no wins in their last five league matches.

They are sweating on the fitness of captain Thabo Matlaba (ankle) and forward Thamsanqa Gabuza (thigh), while definitely ruled out are defenders Mthokozisi Dube and Innocent Maela.

Cape Town City will play host to table-topping Baroka FC in a game that kicks-off at 18h00 on Tuesday, and will be top of the table by the end of the game if they get a win.

Given their struggles of the last few months that would be a huge achievement and further evidence of the good work being done by coach Benni McCarthy.

City have yet to be involved in a draw this season, while Baroka have taken a point from five of their 10 matches, but a home win looks the most likely result.

Kaizer Chiefs travel to AmaZulu on Wednesday night having to put behind them the disappointment of another failed cup bid with their semi-final exit from the Telkom Knockout at the hands of Wits on Saturday.

Chiefs did more than enough to get something from that game, but were undone by poor finishing, something that has plagued them for a number of seasons now.

"We need to go to Durban and get a result. The essence of a champion is not falling, the concern should be the rise, so that's what we're concerned about now," under-fire coach Steve Komphela told reporters after the Wits loss.

Komphela had tried to appease some unhappy Chiefs fans after the game, and knows he will receive a further barrage of the team does not get the right result in Durban.

"These [the fans] are human beings, when they are angry they will obviously show their anger. When they are happy, they show their appreciation," he said, as per Kick Off.

"I went there just to go and greet, because he had been calling and calling. At times they do call and tell you how they're feeling, if they are not happy, it's okay that they explain themselves.

"We are not robots, we are human beings. We've got to listen to our people, when they are not happy we have to understand that."

Bottom side Platinum Stars have looked better in recent games under Roger de Sa, but face a difficult test at home to in-form Bloemfontein Celtic, who celebrated reaching the Telkom Knockout final on Sunday.

Celtic are into the top four and have lost just two of their 12 matches this season in all competition. It's chalk and cheese from their dismal campaign in 2016/17 when they survived relegation by the skin of their teeth.

Other matches on Wednesday see Free State Stars host Chippa United and Maritzburg United travel to Polokwane City.

Maritzburg are in dire straights having not even managed a goal in the last two months, and with just one in their previous eight games. Even that was an own goal scored by AmaZulu's Michael Morton.


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