Chiefs shoot for PSL invincibility
Victory for Kaizer Chiefs over Moroka Swallows on Friday night will enhance their winning streak and inch them closer to the record for successive triumphs in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
But it is unlikely to have any bearing on the team's approach as they head to the Dobsonville Stadium. What they will be cognisant of, however, is that another victory will give them a comfortable cushion as they move into the business end of the season, and the massive psychological lift that goes with it.
Victory for Chiefs will result in them establishing either a 10 or 11 point lead over their closest challenger, although the number of games played in the league campaign is far from even as the fixture list has descended into near chaos. The disarray was caused by Orlando Pirates' run to last year's African Champions League final plus the break for the African Nations Championship tournament, which concludes in Cape Town on Saturday.
A massive points advantage for Chiefs is also a severe blow to the psyches of those chasing them. The belief that points safely in the pocket are a much better option than potential points from games in hand is one most coaches subscribe to.
Seven wins on the trot attest to Chiefs' potential to overcome a slow start and successfully defend their title.
It did not look possible in early November, when they lost against Ajax Cape Town and manager Stuart Baxter was again forced to explain away his side's indifferent season with the theory that their opponents were preparing for them with much more thoroughness and vigilance than they had a year ago.
But he has not had to roll out that theory since, as Chiefs have won every game since edging out Wits 2-1 on November 9.
Beating Sundowns last week for a seventh successive win was a potential hammer blow for coach Pitso Mosimane's side, even though they have a game in hand.
Sundowns have not won their last four league fixtures, raising questions about the potential of the expensively assembled side, and particularly Mosimane's acumen in leading it. His pleas for time to develop a side capable of dominating for years to come is sounding a little thin, especially as he keeps changing future targets.
Remember that, on taking over at Sundowns in December 2012 when they were near the foot of the table, he promised to finish in the top eight. He delivered 10th place instead. But this, he said, would be tempered by a proper challenge in the 2013-2014 campaign once the squad was reinforced and he had put together proper pre-season preparation.
He got his wish, as Patrice Motsepe opened his chequebook for new signings and Sundowns spent time in Ghana getting ready.
But although Sundowns have, at times, looked like potential champions and are the club other coaches fear the most, there is a growing sense that their potential is not being properly galvanised.
Their last title was won in 2007 under Gordon Igesund, when they won 11 games on the trot to seal up the silverware.
This time, it is perhaps third-placed Wits, yet to play since Christmas, who offer the best challenge for an upset in the title race.
They have been noticeably busy with transfers, reinforcing and trimming their squad, and will give an indication of their potential when they play Orlando Pirates on Tuesday night.
By Wednesday, all PSL clubs will be back in action at the start of a heady 15 weeks of intense competition. But it will be a while before all the relevant questions are properly answered.