Absa Premiership

Kekana: It would be unfair to hand Chiefs the PSL title

Hlompho Kekana (Gallo Images)
Hlompho Kekana (Gallo Images)

Mamelodi Sundowns skipper Hlompho Kekana says it would be unfair for Premier Soccer League (PSL) administrators to simply hand Absa Premiership log leaders Kaizer Chiefs the title but acknowledged the difficulty of the decision facing chairperson Irvin Khoza and his Board of Governors (BOG).

The Covid-19 pandemic upended what was poised to be one of the most thrilling title races in recent history, in which holders Sundowns were hot on Amakhosi's trail before the country went into lockdown.

Only four points separated Ernst Middendorp's men from Pitso Mosimane's voracious chasing pack with a whopping eight and nine games remaining for their respective teams.

"I believe it's going to be very unfair because every team has got hope that they can do something," said Kekana.

"It's gonna be a very challenging thing because when you ask us as Sundowns, do we believe we were gonna win the league? The answer is obvious: yes, we were going to win the league.

"You can't prove that in the boardroom because football is played on the field and you can't put mathematical equations to it either because it doesn't work like that in football.

"For me, it would be very very unfair if you give Chiefs or Sundowns the league because there were still nine games to go and that's a lot of football.

"If we were talking one game or they had too big a lead to be caught, then I'd understand. For instance Liverpool, who have a 25-point lead on top off the English Premier League - you can give them the league but I don't know how you will manage those teams at the bottom of the log."

The topic of whether the league ought to resume, be voided or finalised with the current standings in tact has been a point of debate in recent weeks, especially as the country eased into level four of the current lockdown restrictions.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt weighed in, saying the season had to be finished, no matter how long it took to do so. His player, Thabang Monare, as well as fellow coach Cavin Johnson, however, said Chiefs should be declared 2019/20 champions by virtue of their pole position at the close of play.

But it isn't just at the top where tough decisions must be made, said Kekana, but the ramifications affected clubs throughout the 16-team league, not least relegation-threatened sides Black Leopards, AmaZulu, Polokwane City and Baroka FC.

"It isn't only the people who are fighting to win the league but look at the teams at the bottom; the points separating them are so slim, so who are you gonna relegate?" Kekana said.

"The ones at the bottom might feel that they can win all their remaining matches and survive, so what are you gonna tell them? You can't prove that they can't.

"There are teams in the National First Division that want to be in the Premiership, so that adds even more things for them to look at. You have to look at other divisions below that as well, where clubs are hoping to get a fair chance of reaching the next tier."

It's been a curious period for the talismanic Downs captain, who has had to adjust to longer sleeping patterns, training drills over Zoom meetings and resorting to road running to stay in shape.

Since Mosimane took over in 2012, the Brazilians have been on a wild roller-coaster ride that's taken them to four league titles, a CAF Champions League title, a CAF Super Cup and three domestic trophies. It also robbed them of pre-season breaks for nearly five years in the process because of the clash between the continental and South African calendar.

Kekana sees this time as a blessing, whereby the players can recuperate properly and others, such as Thapelo Morena and Oupa Manyisa, can come back from long-term injuries.

"For us it's so unusual to not be playing at this time of the season," he said.

"The national team also wanted us at some point and we didn't feel it because we were doing something that we really love and we are passionate about.

"But it's gonna be good for us. This morning Thapelo did some light jogging, which is good for him and the team. We are at a stage where we really need Thapelo the most."