Chasing glory

2009-12-19 00:00

ON-FORM Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, two of the teams chasing Premier Soccer League leaders SuperSport United, meet in a title-boosting clash at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban today.

The past week has seen a glimmer of hope given to the title chasers, and there is a chance of the race opening up again just before the league goes into a break until early February for Christmas and the African Nations Cup.

Leaders SuperSport United, who on 44 points were nine points clear of Sundowns, Santos and Chiefs, saw that lead cut to six in midweek with a 1-0 defeat away to Lamontville Golden Arrows.

Sundowns, who beat Maritzburg United 1-0 on Wednesday, and Santos, 2-1 winners against Black Aces on Tuesday, both have a game in hand against SuperSport, and could potentially cut the lead to three points. Chiefs, who beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 in midweek and have won four and drawn one of their last five games, have played the same number of matches as the leaders.

Both Chiefs and Sundowns will therefore be desperate for victory in Durban today, though Downs might just have a little bit of added motivation.

The Brazilians play SuperSport at Loftus on Tuesday in a match that could decide the league title. Win today, and then again on Tuesday, and Sundowns will be level on points with SuperSport. On the other hand, if the champions keep their heads and beat Downs, Gavin Hunt’s team will be on course for a third successive title.

Chiefs coach Vladimir Vermezovic will have bitter- sweet emotions ahead of today’s match as he welcomes back his midfield kingpin, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, from suspension, but loses defender Thabang Rooi who injured himself during the win over Ajax, where he also scored.

In addition, left-back Jimmy Jambo won’t travel to Durban as he collected a third yellow card against Ajax.

Chiefs’ match-winner against Ajax, Josta Dladla, who headed an injury-time winner, said that if his team continue winning games they will be on track to challenge SuperSport.

“We did not know that SuperSport were losing or had lost while we were still playing against Ajax. Knowing that they dropped points is good for us,” the midfielder said.

Of his injury-time heroics against Ajax, he said: “We needed to defeat Ajax as we wanted the points. I just had to take the chance — I knew it was the last chance we would have to win the game.”

When at Sundowns, Dladla won two league titles. He believes that should Chiefs be able to see off the challenge of the Brazilians today it could well put him on the way to winning a third title, this time with the Amakhosi.

“There is no talk of second place for us or Sundowns now. We can both still win the league, and Sundowns still have to play SuperSport. I believe firmly that if we win against Sundowns, then we will be able cut their [SuperSport’s] lead even further.”

Sundowns’ PSL top scorer, Katlego Mphela, is aware that today’s game will be tightly contested.

“This match is going to be very difficult. At the moment Chiefs are on a red-hot streak and so are we. Both of us are evenly matched as we head to Durban, I think they have won four of five games, and we as well,” the Bafana Bafana striker said.

Santos, meanwhile, will be quietly watching affairs with interest over the next four days, aware that if the other contenders drop points, then the Cape side still has the potential to pick up the scraps.

SuperSport are at home to second-last Mpumalanga Black Aces at Loftus tonight.

AmaZulu, who thrashed Moroka Swallows 4-0 in a home fixture in midweek, will aim to continue the momentum when they host last-placed Jomo Cosmos at Moses Mabhida tomorrow.

Last night: Santos 0 Orlando Pirates 0

Today: Kaizer Chiefs v Mamelodi Sundowns (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4 and SABC 1), Wits University v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Milpark, 8 pm), Platinum Stars v Free State Stars (Moruleng Stadium, 8.15 pm – live on SABC 1), SuperSport United v Mpumalanga Black Aces (Loftus Stadium, 8.15 pm — live on SuperSport 4)

Tomorrow: Maritzburg Utd v Moroka Swallows (Woodburn Stadium, 3.30 pm), AmaZulu v Jomo Cosmos (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SuperSport 4), Bloemfontein Celtic v Ajax Cape Town (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, 3.30 pm – live on SABC 1)

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