Johannesburg (AFP) – Kaizer Chiefs will miss out on African football next season after only drawing 2-2 with lowly Swallows in the South African Premiership on Saturday in Johannesburg. 

Chiefs, the most successful and popular club in the republic, cannot finish higher than fourth and only the top three in the league qualify for the 2023 Confederation of African Football (CAF) competitions.

Champions Mamelodi Sundowns and the runners-up go into the Champions League and the third-placed team joins FA Cup winners or runners-up Marumo Gallants in the second-tier Confederation Cup.

Gallants qualify because cup final opponents Sundowns have opted for the more lucrative and prestigious Champions League.

Cape Town City, Royal AM or Orlando Pirates could qualify for the Champions League and the trio plus Stellenbosch are in contention for the Confederation Cup slot.

Chiefs needed maximum points to have any hope of returning to Africa after a one-season absence and led 1-0 at half-time through a Njabulo Ngcobo header.

But the club that has won 53 domestic titles since being formed 52 years ago conceded two penalties within six minutes midway through the second half and Dillon Solomons converted both.

Each spot-kick was awarded for handball and after the first, Chiefs’ offender Phathutshedzo Nange was shown a straight red card as he prevented a certain goal.

Another set-piece led to the equaliser on 85 minutes as a Bernard Parker free-kick was deflected past goalkeeper Jody February.

Drawing condemned Swallows to second last place, and two rounds of play-offs against Pretoria University and Cape All Stars for one spot in the next Premiership. 

The Premiership should have finished on Saturday, but the Confederation Cup commitments of Pirates, who finished runners-up to Renaissance Berkane of Morocco on Friday, means they have three fixtures to play.

Two matches scheduled for Saturday were affected by torrential rain in Durban, leading to the postponement of Royal AM against Sundowns and the 79th-minute halting of AmaZulu against Golden Arrows. 

In the one game in the eastern kwaZulu-Natal region that was completed, Maritzburg United relegated Baroka by winning 1-0 through a Clayton Daniels goal.

Cape Town surrendered a 13-match unbeaten league run as a late Granwald Scott goal gave hosts Stellenbosch a 1-0 victory.

Nigerian Chibuike Ohizu ended a long goal drought by scoring for Sekhukhune United, who led and trailed during the second half before drawing 2-2 at Marumo.