Johannesburg (AFP) – Success-starved South African club Kaizer Chiefs had a once big league lead cut to four points this weekend as they lost while closest rivals Mamelodi Sundowns won convincingly.
Chiefs, who enjoyed a 10-point advantage one month ago, fell 2-1 to SuperSport United after being foiled by the woodwork three times in northeastern city Mbombela.
Bradley Grobler put SuperSport ahead and set up the 61st-minute winning goal for Thamsanqa Gabuza after Daniel Cardoso levelled from the penalty spot.
A couple of hours later, defending champions Sundowns outclassed lowly AmaZulu 3-0 in Durban with Themba Zwane scoring twice after being involved in the build-up to the first goal.
Chiefs now have 35 points and record nine-time champions Sundowns 31 followed by SuperSport with 27 and Bidvest Wits on 26.
SuperSport have played one match more and Wits three fewer than Chiefs, who have not won a trophy for four and a half seasons.
Soweto-based Chiefs have triumphed 53 times in domestic competitions since being formed 49 years ago, but last celebrated a success when crowned 2014/2015 league champions.
German coach Ernst Middendorp, hired by Chiefs last season 12 years after an undistinguished first spell at the club, said his team had been unfortunate.
“We were definitely the better team,” insisted the 61-year-old.
“I think the SuperSport goalkeeper (Rowen Williams) was good and we hit the post three times.
– ‘Good game, bad result’ –
“Chiefs will give poorer performances than this and collect maximum points. We played a good game but, unfortunately, got a bad result.”
After toying with AmaZulu, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane could not resist having a dig at the media, sections of whom had written off his team last month when they trailed by 10 points.
“I told you guys (journalists) last month that the league is won in May, not December,” chuckled the 2016 CAF Champions League-winning coach and former South Africa forward.
“There are a lot of matches to be played — we face Wits this Tuesday and must also play Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport in the second round.”
A possible advantage for Chiefs is that they have no African commitments while Sundowns are involved in the CAF Champions League, which entails many long flights with stopovers.
At the other end of the table, Zambian Salulani Phiri and Zimbabwean Charlton Mashumba scored as Polokwane City ended a nine-match losing streak with a 2-0 home win over Chippa United.
Baroka are the new bottom club after a 1-0 loss at Cape Town City, who won and scored for the first time in five matches since Dutch coach Jan Olde Riekerink took over.
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