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Kaizer Chiefs celebrate 50th birthday with nine-point lead

Johannesburg (AFP) – Colombian Leonardo Castro and Serb Samir Nurkovic scored as Kaizer Chiefs celebrated turning 50 by beating Cape Town City 3-0 Sunday to take a nine-point South African Premiership lead.

Castro and Nurkovic scored headed goals before Eric Mathoho did likewise to give the league leaders a second three-goal victory within five days.

“We were not great today but scored at the right moments,” said Chiefs’ German coach Ernst Middendorp.

“I never had any doubt about the result and wish to compliment my players for a second decisive victory this week.”

Nurkovic has scored nine Premiership goals and Castro seven after 17 rounds and the duo have helped solve a scoring problem that has afflicted Chiefs for years.

Chiefs have netted 36 times in 17 matches — the only side among the 16 in the Premiership to average more than two goals a game.

Formed in January 1970, Chiefs have won an unrivalled 53 domestic trophies, more than clubs founded decades before the Soweto outfit. 

But they have been experiencing tough times in recent seasons with their last success being the 2014/2015 Premiership title.  

Hopes are high within the club, though, that the drought is about to be broken with a fifth league title since the Premiership began in 1996.

AS well as having from a healthy lead with 13 matches to play, Chiefs are not involved in time-consuming CAF competitions, giving them an edge over title rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits.

Chiefs have 41 points, Sundowns 32, SuperSport United 31 and Wits 27 in a four-club chase for a record 15 million rand ($1.050 mn, 940,000 euros) first prize.

Sundowns have played one game less than Chiefs and Wits four fewer, but Premiership teams traditionally struggle to transform matches in hand into maximum points.

Cape Town City fired coach and former South Africa star Benni McCarthy after poor early season form and results have been even worse under Jan Olde Riekerink.

The Dutch coach has won only one of seven matches, leaving the club just one point above Black Leopards and Polokwane City, who share last place.

“We play good football but cannot convert chances into goals,” lamented the 56-year-old former Galatasaray manager.

“Although Chiefs deserved to win, we contributed to our downfall by failing to defend the high crosses which led to all three goals.”

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