Fasten your seat belts and brace yourselves for a spine-tingling finish to the season as champions Mamelodi Sundowns and determined pretenders BidVest Wits and Cape Town City battle it out for the premiership title in the coming weeks.
All three sides were in action on Monday and provided twists and turns to the title race that would not have been out of place in a Brazilian soap opera.
Wits and Sundowns met in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table league showdown at BidVest stadium on Monday afternoon and produced a display that served as a delectable appetiser to what is to unfold in these final weeks of the campaign.
And while Wits won the game 1-0 and took ownership of the premiership summit in the process, Sundowns were not disgraced and gave warning that they will not give up their title without a fight.
Wits (51 points) are now one point clear of second-placed Sundowns (50 points) and the two sides have five games remaining this season.
After going at each other in a tension-riddled first half, Wits finally broke the deadlock after Ben Motshwari benefitted from a Sifiso Myeni cross and powered home a beautiful header that beat Downs goalkeeper Denis Onyango in the 42nd minute.
Downs could have equalised almost immediately but Themba Zwane’s low shot beat Wits goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs but was somehow kept out of goal by the upright.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt and his bench will have been relieved that they went into the halftime break still leading the game 1-0 as Sundowns were starting to turn on the screws with Percy Tau, in particular, asking a lot of question.
To the two sides’ credit, they did not sit back in the second half and continued were they left off in the opening period.
You could have cut the tension inside BidVest Stadium with a knife in the second half and it was no surprise that the two sides finished with 10 men after second half substitutes Fares Hachi and Wits’ Daine Klate were sent off for second bookable offenses.
The 5pm start at BidVest Stadium meant that Sundowns and Wits knew exactly what they needed to do after title rivals City faltered against Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium earlier in the day.
City were beaten 1-0 by United courtesy of a lone strike from Kurt Lentjies that turned the title race on its head.
The third-placed City missed an opportunity to reclaim top spot, if only for a couple of hours, and will be kicking themselves after failing to deliver a psychological blow to their rivals.
Sundowns will look back at this game and wonder what could have been had they made better use of the numerous opportunities they created in the first half.
The Brazilians should have opened the scoring in the 15th minutes after Tau peeled away from his markers with the stealth of a ninja inside the box and then delivered an inviting ground shot that flashed across the face of goal.
None of his teammates were able to capitalise on the opportunity and the moans of despair could be heard from Braamfontein to Tsomo Mission after the Brazilians spurned the inviting chance.
Wits woke up after that big let off and started to take the game to Sundowns, with Mogakolodi Ngele constantly plugging away at the visitors and making a nuisance of himself.
Tau should have scored in the 26th minute after a deliciously executed cross from Khama Billiat snaked above his outstretched foot and out of play, to Wits goalkeeper Josephs’ relief.
Hunt will be satisfied with the outcome of this encounter as Wits now have five games to keep their heads and possibly win a maiden premiership title.
Sundowns face struggling Platinum Stars at Loftus Versveld Stadium on Thursday in their next outing while Wits will host unpredictable Orlando Pirates at BidVest Stadium on the same day.
OTHER ABSA PREMIERSHIP RESULTS:
Friday, 28 April 2017:
Highlands Park 0 – 2 Bidvest Wits
Golden Arrows v Mamelodi Sundowns
Saturday, 29 April 2017:
Free State Stars 1 – 2 Polokwane City
SuperSport United 2 – 2 Kaizer Chiefs
Orlando Pirates 2 -1 Chippa United
Sunday, 30 April 2017:
Baroka FC 1 – 1 Bloemfontein Celtic
Monday, 1 May 2017:
Maritzburg United 1 – 0 Cape Town City
Bidvest Wits 1 – 0 Mamelodi Sundowns