Monday Aug 10, 2020. 09:00
After five months absent, league football returns to South Africa with the resumption of the 2019-20 Absa Premiership season this week.
The country has already witnessed the Nedbank Cup semifinals this past weekend, with Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic advancing at the expense of Bidvest Wits and Baroka FC respectively, but it is the intriguing league race which will truly capture the imagination.
All matches will be played behind closed doors and within a Biologically Safe Environment (BSE) in Gauteng to ensure health and hygiene protocols are maintained at all times.
Reigning champions Sundowns will get the ball rolling with a clash against Orlando Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium on the evening of Tuesday 11 August. It’s a crunch match for the Brazilians, who are four points adrift of leaders Kaizer Chiefs but hold a game in hand, and will have some mileage in their legs after playing in the cup on the weekend.
“I told the guys if they think this is stress, the serious stress is coming on Tuesday,” said ‘Downs manager Pitso Mosimane, who would love to see his side overtake Chiefs and get one over his counterpart Ernst Middendorp.
Chiefs will have an immediate chance to reply to Sundowns on Wednesday when they host Bidvest Wits at Orlando Stadium, though their build-up has been clouded somewhat by rumours that Middendorp will leave the club at the end of the campaign – regardless of whether the title is won or not.
From Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August is the first full round of the restart, with title contenders Sundowns and Chiefs away to Highlands Park and Polokwane City respectively.
The Amakhosi’s clash against Polokwane could also have seismic effects on a relegation battle which sees the bottom four separated by just three points.
The key clash in this regard sees AmaZulu host Baroka in a relegation six-pointer at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday, while Sunday features bottom-of-the-log Black Leopards hosting Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium in a must-win clash.
Absa Premiership fixtures, 11-16 August
Tuesday 11 August
Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates
Wednesday 12 August
Kaizer Chiefs v Bidvest Wits
Friday 14 August
Chippa United v Cape Town City
Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns
Saturday 15 August
AmaZulu v Baroka FC
Stellenbosch v Golden Arrows
Polokwane City v Kaizer Chiefs
Orlando Pirates v Bidvest Wits
Sunday 16 August
Black Leopards v Maritzburg United
SuperSport United v Bloemfontein Celtic