Chiefs, Sundowns in a juicy clash

2011-01-02 12:05

The Absa Premiership clash between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at Soccer City on Saturday could well determine the destination of this season’s league title.

There could have been no better fixture to open 2011 than the two top teams meeting at Soccer City on a Saturday afternoon.

A Sundowns victory will see them open a seven-point gap at the top, while a Chiefs triumph will narrow it to just a point and blow the race wide open.

Sundowns go into this fixture fresh from losing to struggling AmaZulu before the festive recess, while Amakhosi will be buoyed by a resounding 2-0 victory over Mpumalanga Aces.

The two giants of local football last tasted league triumph more than three seasons ago as a result of ­SuperSport United winning three back-to-back titles.

While Chiefs already have the Telkom Knockout cup trophy in their cabinet for this season Sundowns have nothing to show for their sizzling early season form.

The Tshwane-based team’s technical team may find themselves in trouble with president Patrice Motsepe, who has proved to be trigger-happy when it comes to coaches who do not deliver on the silverware front.

Sundowns coach Antonio Lopez Habas, who was assistant last season, will be well aware of this after ­witnessing what happened to Hristo Stoichkov last season.

The former Bulgarian star player was dismissed after leading Sundowns to the second spot on the table.

With one trophy already in the bag, Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic is now aiming for the league title, which eluded him in his first season.

Another intriguing clash, also on Saturday, will see third-placed Orlando Pirates invading Tshwane, where they have a date with out-of-sorts United.

The last time the two teams met the Buccaneers registered a 3-0 victory in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal earlier this season.

The defending champions have not been the same since the departure of Daine Klate to Pirates at the beginning of the season and the winger will be out to inflict more pain on his former team-mates.

At the other end of the table Moroka Swallows will be looking for their maiden victory this season when they host resurgent Free State Stars at Dobsonville, also on Saturday.

Swallows coach Gordon Igesund is well aware that time is fast running out for his side as they find themselves rooted at the bottom of the log.

But with only two points separating them from struggling 15th-placed Mpumalanga Aces, he knows a victory will take them closer to safety.

The second half of the season will separate the boys from the men as the races at both ends intensify.

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