Fresh from important wins at the weekend, both Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs could deliver a tense Absa Premiership clash at Bidvest Stadium in Braamfontein - the home of the Clever Boys - tonight.
In the words of Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela, the match is a direct confrontation between two clubs growing in their desperation to close the gap on leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who showed no signs of slowing down in their 5-2 demolition job of Free State Stars in Orkney on Sunday afternoon.
Wits earned a narrow 1-0 victory over Golden Arrows away from home on Saturday, with Chiefs also collecting maximum points against Maritzburg United courtesy of a Lorenzo Gordinho winner with virtually the last kick of the game to clinch the tie 3-2.
Tonight, the sides in second and fourth place, respectively, could face their worst fears head on: one of them might fall away as a genuine title contender.
Here are the three most intriguing talking points ahead of this potential championship eliminator:
1 Gavin Hunt v Steve Komphela
Both are under the microscope for different reasons this season. Hunt, a three-time league winner at SuperSport United, is in his third year with Wits and still looking for silverware. It is thought that there is no time like now to get his record to work in his favour, even with the view that it would take a capitulation of extreme proportions for Sundowns to drop their guard in the title race. Komphela on the other hand, has been under pressure from the minute he arrived at Naturena to take charge of a team with two Premier League trophies in three years.
Stepping in to replace Stuart Baxter was always going to be a tough act to follow. And, as far as the Amakhosi fans are concerned, reaching two cup finals already this season counts for nothing if you haven't won them. He's come across tough challenges in his short tenure so far, but the backlash from losing further ground in the championship chase could be colossal.
2 James Keene factor
There are fitness concerns over Hunt’s new found goal-poacher after he missed the club’s Arrows match. But the coach wouldn't reveal the extent of the injury, suggesting mind games. Keene has scored five goals in five matches since he joined the club as a free agent last month. Having first tried his luck at Chiefs while Baxter was at the helm last season, the Englishman will easily be one of the talking points even if he doesn't make it on to the pitch. The rotation policy is in full swing now for both clubs with their continental campaigns scheduled to begin this weekend. But would Hunt really risk side-lining his most recent hope for goals in a match of this magnitude? Probably not.
Hunt has bemoaned his side’s inconsistency despite one of their best starts to a season since he arrived. “I thought we would be stronger at the back this year, but we have conceded some soft goals,” the coach said following a 1-1 home draw against Platinum Stars a week ago. With that in mind, as well as the number of missing key players away to Arrows, the former SuperSport mentor is likely to ring the changes again. Look out for defender Bongani Khumalo when Wits have a set-piece.
Hunt’s counterpart Komphela will bring Eric Mathoho and Reneilwe Letsholonyane back into the fold. The duo missed the Maritzburg match because of suspensions, but their replacements - Siyanda Xulu and Lucky Baloyi - didn't cover themselves in glory. Komphela, even with the immense pressure from fans, has not deviated from his desire to see Chiefs playing a fluid passing game. Look out for striker Camaldine Abraw, who has scored three goals in four matches for the Glamour Boys. - The Star
Original source: Wits v Chiefs - the talking points