Squeaky bum time for Chiefs, SuperSport and City as Top 8 disaster looms

TRUSTED man Grant Margeman of SuperSport United and Pule Mmodi of Kaizer Chiefs duel as they carry hopes for their teams to make the top eight. | BackpagePix

TRUSTED man Grant Margeman of SuperSport United and Pule Mmodi of Kaizer Chiefs duel as they carry hopes for their teams to make the top eight. | BackpagePix

Published May 5, 2024


WHEN Kaizer Chiefs suffered an embarrassing 5-1 thrashing in their backyard, the team’s underwhelming season was again brought sharply into focus.

It was the second time that Chiefs lost to champions Mamelodi Sundowns by a four-goal margin. Last season (August 22) Chiefs lost 4-0 to Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld.

Losing a home match by this margin was humiliating, especially since the opposition fans were in party mode as their team scored five goals to lift the DStv Premiership title for the seventh consecutive season.

Chiefs are not the only team facing the dilemma of failing to secure a season-ending top eight berth, after the side finished in fifth place last season. The season is on its last legs and since this current Chiefs team wins once in a while, there is a real danger of missing out on a top eight slot.

Among other teams who are also in danger of losing out are SuperSport United and Cape Town City who finished third and fourth respectively last season.

Chiefs are in eighth place and have four Premiership matches remaining. Three matches will be against teams that are below them on the log. They are TS Galaxy (sixth, home), AmaZulu (12th, away), Polokwane (9th, home) and Cape Town Spurs (16th, away). With this calibre of opposition Chiefs will fancy their chances of forcing their way into a season-ending top eight berth.

SuperSport in fifth place have been battling to win matches. After a sustained winless streak, they arrested their slide from grace with a win over hapless Royal AM midweek.

SuperSport end the season away against Orlando Pirates, who are showing great form. Before that they area at home against Sekhukhune United, Cape Town Spurs and Swallows.

Even with their poor form, SuperSport should pick up at least two wins and that could prove to be a saving grace.

The Cityzens’ wretched run continued midweek, losing 2-0 to Pirates.

City are in seventh place and since they are still sweating for a win this calendar year, their top eight prospects look bleak.

Their upcoming home matches are against Swallows, Galaxy and Richards Bay before the season ends away against Sundowns.

Thursday’s 5-1 thumping at Soccer City over Chiefs was just another empathic example of how Sundowns have become all-conquering in South African football, offering little hope of any side challenging their hegemony anytime soon.

Sundowns have rewritten several records, but the 2023-24 campaign might yet turn out to be their most successful yet. They have won the title with six matches to spare – as was the case last season – but this time round are still unbeaten after 24 of their 30 league matches.

No club has ever finished any season in South African football without losing a league game but Sundowns can claim that unique record if they avoid defeat in their last matches against Lamontville Golden Arrows, AM (twice), Stellenbosch, City and TS Galaxy.

Sundowns won their opening 11 games of the season in a lightning start that put them well clear of the chasing pack by the time one-third of the season was complete.

They have rarely been challenged since, and after beating Chiefs on Thursday and moving to 62 points, they need only win half of their remaining games to tie the record for the most points in a 30-match season, which is 71 they set in the 2015/16 campaign.

The most points accumulated in any season in South Africa is 75, a record Sundowns jointly hold with Chiefs from the 1998/99 campaign that had 34 matches per team. It once seemed unthinkable that it could be topped in 30 games, but not anymore.