Cape Town - As the title race in the National First Division intensifies, early pacesetters Thanda Royal Zulu will be hoping that spending Christmas at the log summit is a blessing and not a curse.
KwaZulu-Natal sides Thanda and Royal Eagles are sitting comfortably at the top of the log at the midway point. Thanda have taken the league by storm and will go to the break leading the pack with 32 points.
Eagles are on 25 points. Thanda, who visited Stellenbosch on Saturday, were the only side that still hadn’t lost a game before this weekend’s final round of matches.
But being at the summit at the midway point does not mean anything – they should rather be number one at the end of the season.
Being in the driving seat, though, is better than being at the foot of the table as they can determine the pace at which they want to approach the second half of the season.
It is often said that it is easy to reach the top, but it’s hard to stay there. Hopefully, this will not be the case with them.
When the league resumes in February, many clubs would have done some work, knowing the final 15 games will not be easy and will look at putting the brakes on Thanda’s title challenge.
And Eagles will be hoping to take advantage of any slip-up in the new year. But with more than 45 points still to play for, there is a long way to go.
While the KwaZulu-Natal clubs are pulling away from the chasing pack, Cape Town sides have found the going very tough, with four out of the five teams at the bottom half of the table.
Only Stellenbosch FC are giving the leading pack a run for their money, while Santos, Milano, FC Cape Town and Cape Town All Stars are struggling at the wrong end of the table.
With the last games of the year scheduled for Sunday afternoon, three former Premiership sides – Jomo Cosmos, AmaZulu and Santos – will be pushing to close the gap between themselves and the leaders.
Cosmos welcome Santos, who this week parted ways with coach Zeca Marques, at Olen Park Stadium in Potchefstroom.
Usuthu entertain Milano at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban.
The three sides have been struggling to collect points and have a lot of ground to cover if they are to stand a chance of getting promotion at the end of the season.
But they will be hoping to go to the Christmas break on a high.
AmaZulu needed a last-minute goal from their evergreen striker, Siyabonga Nomvethe, to win their tie with Santos last weekend, while Cosmos went down to Eagles.
Santos have not had the best start, either, with just a single win in 14 matches.