Exhilarating run for Chiefs

2014-12-22 11:22
Kaizer Chiefs (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs go into the end-of-year break with a 15 point advantage over their nearest rival, Mamelodi Sundowns, at the top of the Premiership standings.

READ: Baxter: We can play better.

However, last season, Chiefs were also sitting pretty when Sundowns beat the odds to overcome the bookies' favourite and clinch the 2013/2014 league title in May.

Astonishingly, the Brazilians covered substantial ground to make up an 11 point deficit and ended a seven year league trophy drought, powering their way to the title with a game to spare after an 11-game winning streak.

The champions amassed 65 points in their campaign while Chiefs fell short, accumulating 63 points to finish runners-up.

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane tipped his team to accomplish bigger and better things in the season to come.

"Sundowns is a big club that needs to be at the top and we have managed to restore the pride. This is just the start. We are very ambitious and next season we will do our best to fight for our title," said the elated Mosimane.

Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter, meanwhile, described last season's home-stretch implosion as an injustice to the fans and the club's rich history.

"In the back of our minds I think we thought we had the title wrapped up, waiting for us to lift the trophy. It showed some signs of immaturity and experience in the end to lose it when we were so far ahead, Baxter said.

"But credit must go to Sundowns after they pulled together a run of wins that proved our undoing."

Amakhosi, however, have managed to turn the tables and have come back with a vengeance, surging to an unprecedented start by winning 15 consecutive matches across all competitions.

They remain unbeaten in the Premiership after 18 matches, having won 14 and drawn four. They won their first 12 matches before their streak was broken with a draw. Baxter has assembled an ultra-offensive system that has allowed attacking players like Mandla Masango, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, George Lebese, George Maluleka and Siphiwe Tshabalala to break last season's shackles and flourish.

While Chiefs were determined not to repeat last season's disaster, Sundowns were finding it hard to replicate their devastating form. They have only mustered eight wins, seven draws and two losses from their 17 games as their new recruits have failed to click.

During the transfer window, Sundowns roped in players to strengthen the club and bolster their ambitions of making a mark in the Caf Champions League next year. Mosimane said he was willing to play second fiddle and pounce when the time was right.

"Once we get going we are hard to stop. We just need to get a run of positive results. Last season we were able to do it and this team has quality," he said.

"Chiefs are doing well but we are just waiting for them to begin to drop points and that is where we have to capitalise."

Level on points with Sundowns, though lying third with an inferior goal difference, Wits have kept Amakhosi on their toes, winning nine of their 18 matches.

Orlando Pirates were fourth-time lucky when they clinched the Nedbank Cup, after losing in three previous cup finals.

The Buccaneers powered to a 3-1 victory against Wits in the final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in May.

Prior to their triumph, Pirates had fallen short in the finals of the MTN8, the Telkom Knockout and the Caf Champions League in the space of four months during the 2013/2014 season.

On the heels of their winning streak to start the season, Chiefs' impressive run yielded cup success in the form of the MTN8 title when they overcame arch-rivals Pirates 1-0 in September.

Meanwhile, Platinum Stars failed to defend their Telkom Knockout title when they were knocked off their perch, suffering a 3-2 loss to SuperSport United at the Orlando Stadium in November.

Former Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund guided SuperSport to success three months after taking over from Cavin Johnson, who was fired.

Matsatsantsa immediately took to Igesund's methods and coaching style with the Tshwane club having ended a near three year cup drought.

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  soccer

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