South Africa’s Absa Premiership resumes on Tuesday after a break of more than two weeks without the clubs that are competing in the continental club competition, with the pick of the clashes SuperSport United’s trip to Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.
The pair have the two best points-per-game ration in the league but have only played 10 games so far and this is a chance for them to further cement their status as championship Dark Horses.
Celtic will go top of the table with a win, level on points with Orlando Prates but with two games in hand.
Celtic have been rejuvenated under coach Steve Komphela, who arrived after three difficult years at Kaizer Chiefs, and has immediately turned them into a tough team to beat with defensive solidity and variety on attack.
No team has conceded fewer than the six goals the side has let in and they are coming off a stunning come-from-behind victory over early season pace-setters Bidvest Wits last time out.
Komphela hadwhich, judging how the campaign is panning out could well be enough for an unlikely title triumph and Celtic are so far on course for that with 20 points from 10 games.
SuperSport are still very much in the mix though and unlike other title contenders such as Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and, at a stretch, Kaizer Chiefs are not burdened by African club competitions.
Coach Kaitano Tembo has had to endure injury woes in recent times though and they will once again be without two of their stalwarts, midfielder Dean Furman and striker Bradley Grobler, who are out until well into the New Year.
This is a fixture that has traditionally favoured the home team with the away side not managing a victory in any of the last 14 clashes between the sides dating back to 2012.
That being said, the last five meetings between the teams in Bloemfontein have ended in draws and that looks a likely result again.
There are also three matches to be played on Tuesday night as, including a cross-country trip for Cape Town City to high-flying Polokwane City.
Benni McCarthy’s side have picked up their form after a difficult start to the season, but continue to battle on the road with their last away win in the league coming against Platinum Stars on January 6, a run of 11 matches without success.
McCarthy hopes that the team can go on to pick up wins on the road, and also beat teams such as Polokwane City who do not have the depth in their squad as the Mother City side.
“We had our little slump and it was a slump against all the top teams. Now the teams in the middle and the lower end are all coming at once for us,” McCarthy told the media.
“If we want to prove that we are not just a miracle team, or as one-hit wonder, that (winning) the MTN was a fluke, a lucky strike, then we need to prove it against these teams.
“We want to push them aside, out of our path, because we should be closer to the top. I think that’s the main aim now.
“In all the remaining games up until Christmas we are looking to do the same: play good football; entertaining football but football with a purpose; football that’s got goals at the end of game and us collecting the three points.
“Every game we play we want to take the three points; I’m not happy with one or zero. I don’t think any coach in the league who doesn’t want that.”
In other matches on Tuesday, Highlands Park host bottom side AmaZulu and Maritzburg United entertain Chippa United.