No panic stations at Naturena

2015-02-27 10:43
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Much has been made of Kaizer Chiefs' first Premiership defeat of the season, but is there really cause for concern in the Amakhosi camp?

PSL: Our pick of the pile

The Glamour Boys' hopes of becoming the first team in the PSL era to go the entire league campaign unbeaten went up in smoke last weekend as Stuart Baxter's men crashed to a 2-0 defeat away to SuperSport United.

It was not the first time the Soweto giants had tasted defeat this term, though, with the side having crashed out of the Telkom Cup at the semi-finals after going down on penalties to Platinum Stars.

It was, however, a first loss in 20 Premiership outings for Chiefs, who had won 14 and drawn five of their previous 19 matches to open up a 15-point lead at the top of the standings, before Matsatsantsa brought them crashing back down to earth.

Mamelodi Sundowns have since taken full advantage of that loss after beating Moroka Swallows at the beginning of February and dispatching AmaZulu in the first of their two catch-up games on Tuesday to cut the gap at the top to 10 points with 11 games remaining this term (10 for Chiefs).

That divide could, however, be bridged even more by Tuesday evening as Sundowns face Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg, 24 hours before Chiefs are in action at home against Ajax Cape Town.

The big concern among Chiefs fans is the fact their side let slip a 12-point lead at a similar stage last season to allow the Brazilians to overtake them in the race for the top-flight crown.

A big reason for that capitulation was believed to be down to Amakhosi's CAF Champions League commitments, where they progressed to the second round before falling to eventual tournament runners-up AS Vita Club.

Chiefs are again in the top tier of continental football this year, and with their domestic lead two points less than what it was last season, fears of another implosion have started gripping the gold half of Soweto.

Baxter's men will now embark on the second-leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary round encounter away to Botswana champions Township Rollers on Saturday, where the PSL giants hold a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Johannesburg.

The Glamour Boys also have a Nedbank Cup last-16 encounter against National First Division outfit Black Leopards coming up in March after Chiefs cruised to a 4-0 win over Edu Sports FC in the last 32 on Saturday.

The concern there is that Chiefs may again have too much on their plate, which could severely upset their Premiership apple cart, with the league title arguably Amakhosi's main target this term.

And, on top of that, Sundowns have been in simply sublime form, having gone undefeated in their last 15 league matches - winning the previous four in a row - with a 2-0 Nedbank Cup triumph over Thanda Royal Zulu thrown in for good measure.

However - and this is a big 'however' - there are only 10 games left in the Premiership campaign for Chiefs, and to suggest one defeat in 20 will spark a complete and utter collapse of this season's work is more than a long shot. One also has to consider that Sundowns would arguably need to win almost all of their remaining 11 matches in order to take advantage of any points dropped by the Glamour Boys, and while the Tshwane giants do indeed have an impressive record this term, they have also drawn no fewer than seven games - something coach Pitso Mosimane has regularly bemoaned.

So, while those outside of Naturena may view defeat to SuperSport as the beginning of the end of Chiefs, the more level-headed will be more than happy to hold off any sentencing for a few weeks - or at least until after next month's Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates - before preparing the PSL chopping block.

Read more on:    kaizer chiefs  |  psl  |  soccer

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