Chiefs rule as battle for second hots up

There is nothing like a hot streak to ensure championship success and Kaizer Chiefs laid the foundation early for this season’s title-winning performance with a significant run of form. A total of 18 league matches without defeat from the start of the campaign, combined with a remarkably stout defence (only 12 goals conceded so far this season in 27 games, a near-record), put Chiefs as much as 15 points ahead of the chasing pack at one stage.

And, although they threatened to implode after the mid-season holidays, their listing ship was righted and four successive victories culminated in their coronation on Wednesday as they secured the league crown with three games to spare.

In the end it will be recorded as a comfortable annexation, although just six weeks ago there was every chance that big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns could, for a second successive year, come from behind and jostle a jittery Chiefs from the top.

Ironically, it has been Sundowns who have imploded. They have now gone three matches without a win in the league – not only ceding their title but opening the door for two other clubs to bump them out of second place.

African Champions League
The battle for the runners-up berth now takes over as the leading plot in what is left of the Premier Soccer League season before its conclusion on May 10. Finishing second means not only significant prize money but, more importantly, a berth in next year’s African Champions League on which Sundowns have set their sights.

But Downs’ tired-looking and insipid performances of late are allowing Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates an opportunity to usurp them. Should Sundowns lose their next league game – they host Chiefs in Atteridgeville on Wednesday – then we have the potential for another absorbing contest.

There is also the battle for the top eight places next season, with a particular eye on whether Maritzburg United can finally achieve their long cherished aim of finishing in the top half of the table; plus, of course, the relegation tussle.

Two successive victories, which were their first of the year, have lifted Free State Stars significantly clear and left AmaZulu and Moroka Swallows six points adrift.

The last-placed side is automatically relegated to the national first division, but the team finishing second from bottom still has a chance to ensure survival in the post-season play-offs.

AmaZulu have already made a gallant effort to try to claw their way back from a seemingly hopeless position and might yet engineer a miracle escape. Swallows are attempting the same under new coach Craig Rosslee, but may not have the resources they need. The possibility of their first ever relegation is stark.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Premier League’s opening madness may well shatter our preconceptions

Thanks to several unique circumstances, this season will likely confound everyone, from pundits to economists

Expect no charity from football’s elite

We should let go of the hope that our favourite clubs are going to act altruistically in English football’s looming financial crisis

Q&A Sessions: ‘Each generation must open doors for the next’ — Desiree Ellis

Desiree Ellis has a deep understanding of the development of women’s football in South Africa. The Banyana Banyana head coach talks to Luke Feltham about how the women’s game has changed over her 40-year career

Cartoon: A Messi affair in the Barcelona house

An untidy board room has prompted a transfer request from the little man

Top European clubs circle as Messi calls time at Barcelona

The Argentine legend has fallen out with the Catalan club's hierarchy, which has alerted a number of sides in world football

Corporate and broadcast deals push PSL to restart

Football will return, but the players are likely to have very little time to acquaint themselves with the "new normal"

Subscribers only

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday