History has a strange style of being repeated or rewritten! Like the previous season, the final Saturday of the season, next week, will see Orlando Pirates – who narrowly defeated Golden Arrows last season this time – looking to become the first back-to-back treble winners in South African football taking on the same team. On the other hand, Moroka Swallows would be praying for Arrows to deter Pirates’ ambitions. At the same breath, Maritzburg United would be looking to castrate the Dube Bird’s desire to end their title drought since 1965, a feat they achieved last season. United dealt a blow to Ajax Cape Town’s dream for winning the league for the first time.
The scintillating repeat of last season’s end – which will see United and Arrow looking set to do the honourable thing – was set up by the second placed Swallows who defeated Platinum Stars 2 – 1 while log leaders Pirates come from behind to beat Celtic with the same margin. Equally, both safe from relegation quagmire, and with no chances securing the top eight spot, United and Arrows have nothing to lose going to their fixtures against Swallows and Pirates respectively. But last season, United – while standing on a safe position – behaved like a Spaniard bull on steroids, holding Ajax to a cruel 2 – 2 draw, leaving them with a bitter taste of the league.
The ABSA premiership, which remained a two-horse race, will go down the wire in Durban – with United and Arrows hosting the games. And, at the same breath, Soweto will be momentously set ablaze by a win either by Swallows or Pirates.
Will the pendulum swing back, or will Pirates cement their bid to monopolise the league? The Ghosts are hailed by some PSL coaches as favorite for the championship. Celtic coach Clinton conceded Pirates displayed a material of the champion in their game against his team. Pirates roped in Augusto Palacios as a caretaker coach, after Julio Leal was fired after a spate of poor results and his failure to maintain the expected standard. The stakes are high; Swallows coach Gordon Igesund harbours the hopes of decorating his trophy cabinet with the fifth league title. On the other hand, Pirates are in need of one trophy to write a new beautiful page in their history book. A feat for any side will surely be captured in SA football history.
Interestingly, Igesund used ‘rejects’ from some PSL clubs to turn Swallows, who narrowly survived relegation last season, into a force to be reckoned with in the league. They scraped through the turbulence conditions of the fluctuating league – which saw Mamedodi Sundows, Kaizer Chiefs and Supersport United dozing off on the way – to their current position. But, states Palacios, Pirates have the depth and mental determination to win the historic successive leaque. “It is an honour for me to have this players”, Palacois said.