Absa Premiership

OPINION | Is the Absa Premiership title slipping away from Kaizer Chiefs?

2020-02-25 13:00
Lebogang Manyama
Lebogang Manyama (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - In a title-chasing season, it's rare not to have many - if any - hiccups along the way, but should Kaizer Chiefs' recent slump be of concern to the Soweto giants? 

Since the start of the new year, Amakhosi have played eight matches, with a record of: 4 wins, 1 draw, and 3 defeats.

The Glamour Boys' most recent two defeats came within seven days of each other - the first was an Absa Premiership clash against Maritzburg United (a 2-1 defeat) while a penalty shoot-out loss against Highlands Park in the Nedbank Cup last 16 followed.

Those were two underwhelming performances by Ernst Middendorp's charges - a rare case this campaign. 2020 has come with its own challenges for the Naturena outfit.

Amakhosi (45 points) held a healthy lead over their fellow Absa Premiership title challengers with second placed Mamelodi Sundowns trailing the Soweto giants by 9-points at the start of the year.

The Brazilians - now on 41 points - have since closed the gap to just four points with 10 matches remaining.  

Despite Chiefs failing to advance to the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals, their shock exit could be a blessing in disguise as it leaves them with just the Absa Premiership to focus on while Sundowns are also fighting it out in the CAF Champions League and Nedbank Cup.

It has been five years since Chiefs celebrated a league triumph and ending this campaign with silverware would be a welcome feat.

But Chiefs' recent form has raised question marks over whether the current crop of players has what it takes to end the trophy drought.

Middendorp, however, remains confident. 

"Are we really dreaming? I said it in November, nothing is coming to an end. I said in January and I said it in February too," Middendorp told reporters last week when quipped on whether Chiefs are letting the title slip away.

Five of Chiefs' 10 remaining fixtures have the potential to dent their chances of the league crown.

Chiefs still have to play two games against Wits, while encounters against Sundowns, Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates also await.

Starting this weekend, Amakhosi take on their oldest foes Pirates in a Soweto derby Absa Premiership clash at the FNB Stadium.

The Buccaneers have not tasted defeat under current coach Josef Zinnbauer, who joined the club in December last year, and on Saturday he will be hoping to keep that record intact against the Glamour Boys.

Despite having played one game more, Pirates (39 points) have a new-found zest that has steered them to third position - six points off log leaders Chiefs.

They are also very much in the running. 

Amakhosi, however, are well equipped to recover from their January and February mishaps, and with the stakes as high as securing a title, nothing is off the table.

KAIZER CHIEFS' REMAINING ABSA PREMIERSHIP FIXTURES:

Orlando Pirates (A) - Saturday, February 29

AmaZulu (A) - Saturday, March 7

Bidvest Wits (H) - Wednesday, March 18

Polokwane City (A) - Saturday, March 21

Bloemfontein Celtic (A) - Sunday, April 5

Stellenbosch (H) - Saturday, April 11

Mamelodi Sundowns (H) - Wednesday, April 15

Bidvest Wits (A) - Friday, April 24

Chippa United (H) - Wednesday, May 6

Baroka (A) - Saturday, May 9

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Fixtures
Friday, 10 April 2020
Maritzburg United v Wits, Harry Gwala Stadium 20:00
Saturday, 11 April 2020
Polokwane City v Highlands Park, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:00
Black Leopards v SuperSport United, Thohoyandou Stadium 15:00
Mamelodi Sundowns v Golden Arrows, Lucas Moripe Stadium 18:00
AmaZulu v Bloemfontein Celtic, King Zwelithini Stadium 20:15
Sunday, 12 April 2020
Kaizer Chiefs v Stellenbosch, Moses Mabhida Stadium 15:00
Baroka FC v Chippa United, Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:00
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The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

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