Siyabonga Ntshingila
Siyabonga Ntshingila

PSL set for an epic finale

So the PSL season is set to close with another bum-clencher of a finale.

The defending champions, Orlando Pirates, enjoying something of an Indian summer when it comes to trophies recently, are set to put their fans (this writer included) through the emotional shredder once more as they go up against their oldest rival Moroka Swallows for league champions honours.

Last season it took a sensational strike from Isaac Chansa as Ajax Cape Town bafflingly choked and Kaizer Chiefs failed to do enough, for the Buccaneers to snatch league glory for the first time since 2002. Having secured that triumph, and engaged in the now traditional sacrifice of the winning coach, can the Bucs do it again?

Their form since the dismissal of Julio Leal says yes. They have amassed an incredible 40 points in little over 15 games since the Brazilian paid the price for winning two early trophies. Their late rally against Bloem Celtic on the penultimate day says they have the self-belief and cool headedness to make it count once more. That they beat Arrows to secure the title last season will also serve to drive their confidence going into the last chance saloon.

But to do that, they have to win against Arrows, and try to not think about the rampaging Moroka Swallows who have defied all expectations and stand ready to assume the throne should the men from Orlando East slip up.

There are not enough superlatives to describe the brilliant job Gordon Igesund has done with the Dube Birds. From 13th place with just 8 wins and 8 draws all of last season to chasing the crown with 53 points after 14 wins and 11 draws this time around is an impressive turn-around. Last season Swallows scored 26 goals in their 30 games. This year they are on 47 already, and no one will put it past Siyabonga Nomvete (on 20 goals for the season already) to add to their tally.

Nomvete’s own renaissance has been a revelation. At 34 years of age he is playing the best football of his life and is eight goals clear of the nearest contender for the leading scorer this season. Mind you this is only the fifth time the PSL’s leading scorer has surpassed 20 goals and two more strikes will see Nomvete in third place for most goals in a season by the top goal scorer. In a league and a country desperate for consistent firepower upfront, his performances have been a welcome sight.

Pirates have their own wisened veteran to rely on this weekend. Most thought Benni was here for one last big pay cheque when he signed from West Ham in the off-season. Overweight, surly and seemingly disinterested, the country stood to watch a train wreck signal the end of a once promising and occasionally successful career. But Benni has been nothing short of a consummate professional and has led the way along with Lucky Lekgwathi in carrying this team on his shoulders.

He will be bitterly disappointed at missing out on a clean sweep of trophies, but if he can make it 3 out of 4 with the league, he certainly would have shoved loads of humble pie down his detractors’ throats.

So, two old rivals, one match standing between each and their fate, and their hopes resting on a pair of old gunslingers seeking a legacy. The PSL finale is poised to be another one for the ages.