PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL
Wits pair dream of league glory and grit their teeth
Phumlani Ntshangase and Phakamani Mahlambi left the pitch at Goble Park in tears last Wednesday after losing 3-1 to Free State Stars.
But by the time BidVest Wits left Bethlehem‚ the two youngsters were smiling again, believing they are destined to be Premiership champions for the first time in their lives and the club’s history.
That was after they heard Mamelodi Sundowns had dropped two vital points in a 2-2 draw with Baroka FC.
"That loss hurt us a lot‚" Ntshangase said.
"We were emotional not just because we had lost but because we knew the feeling of losing the league at this time.
"It happened to us last season. We weren’t hurt just for the club and the fans‚ but also for ourselves because winning the league is our dream."
Failing to win the title would hurt a lot for Ntshangase because the dynamic central midfielder has been a part of the team transforming in the past three seasons from a mid-table side to league contenders.
The Clever Boys are guaranteed to return to the Caf Champions League next year as they will finish in the top two. But they don’t just want to finish in the top two. They want to finish in first position.
Champions Mamelodi Sundowns’ last two games are against Maritzburg United and Highlands Park.
The Brazilians have lost their bullish swagger that saw them demolish everything in their path to win the title last season and they cannot afford any more slip-ups such as their recent draws with Platinum Stars and Baroka FC.
But it will not be easy, with Maritzburg and Highlands Park both scrapping for every point in their bid to avoid relegation.
For things to end well for Sundowns‚ Wits have to stumble as the Clever Boys are in the driver’s seat.
Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson may have steered his side from the choppy relegation waters, but he is not taking the wounded Kaizer Chiefs lightly.
Fresh off a disappointing 1-0 loss to Polokwane City, Steve Komphela’s side are hardpressed to fight for a place in the top four with SuperSport United a point ahead of them.
Platinum Stars embarrassed Chiefs in the corresponding fixture, but Johnson knows that in local football, lightning does not always strike twice‚ even though Chiefs have always been ripe for the picking this season.
"You can’t put anything past Chiefs‚" Johnson said. "With their pedigree and their accolades‚ you have to play against Chiefs like you’re playing in a cup final." It is his side’s last home game this season, "so we have to make it a good one".