Leaders Kaizer Chiefs held by Stellenbosch FC, still six points clear

Kaizer Chiefs are now six points behind second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns although they have played a match more.
Kaizer Chiefs are now six points behind second-placed defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns although they have played a match more.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs fought their way back from a goal down to snatch a point against Stellenbosch FC in a game the stuttering premiership leaders could have easily lost had the Cape visitors been more clinical in front of goal at Orlando Stadium on Sunday night.

Chiefs' had their back  up against the wall from very early in the game when Lelethu Skelem put the tricky visitors in the lead in the 34th minute. But coach Ernst Middendorp's charges managed to claw their way back into the match  through a goal that was bundled over the line by Lazarous Kambole 21 minutes from fulltime.

Stellenbosch will be asking themselves how they could only manage a point from a game they controlled for long periods and should have won.

Chiefs, on the other hand, should consider themselves fortunate as not only were they always chasing the game for  most of the 90 minutes, but they were also lucky to get away with the point after Ashley Du Preez somehow managed to hit the side netting when  it seemed finding the back of the net was the easier option a few minutes before fulltime.

The 1-1 draw maintained AmaKhosi's six-point lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns  and they now have four games remaining this season to end a long wait for the league title.

But worryingly for Chiefs fans is that they have conceded in every  match single match since football restarted in the beginning of the month and their net was breached for the seventh time in four matches when Skelem beat Daniel Akpeyi with a fine header in the 34th minute. 

Credit to Du Preez after  he turned Siyabonga Ngezana inside out on the right before delivering an inviting cross that landed perfectly on Skelem's head.

Kambole, who joined Chiefs in July last year, will be grateful after finding the back of the net and finally breaking his duck since arriving from Zesco United. 

Long-time leaders Chiefs have suddenly stuttered as they approach the home straight and made heavy weather of what would have been a relatively comfortable stroll to the finish line had they not dropped points in a largely unpredictable run in the last few weeks. 

Chiefs have managed just five points from a possible 12 after draws against Wits and Stellenbosch, in an impressive come-from-behind 3-2 win against Polokwane City and a deflating 3-1 defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic a few days ago.   

Many observers have argued that Chiefs have benefited immensely from Sundowns' own poor form since the resumption of football in the beginning of the month and the premiership leaders were not made to pay a heavy price for the stuttering results.

The Brazilians have failed to regain the form they had before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the suspension of football in March and coach Pitso Mosimane will be upset that his charges have not been able to win a league match since beating the selfsame Stellenbosch five months ago.

They will be kicking themselves after three costly draws against Orlando Pirates, Highlands Park and Maritzburg United, and a defeat to Cape Town City saw them only manage to win three points from a possible 12.

Thursday's league showdown between Chiefs and Sundowns should provide another twist to what has been an intriguing tussle between the two rivals since the start of the season last year.    

Chiefs remaining matches: 

vs Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium (Thurs, 27 Aug 2020) 

vs Wits at FNB Stadium (Sun, Aug 30 2020 at 3:30pm)

vs Chippa United at Orlando Stadium (Wed, Sept 2 at 6pm) 

vs Baroka at FNB Stadium (Sat, Sept 5 2020 at 3:30pm)

Sundowns remaining matches:

vs Golden Arrows at Dobsonville Stadium (Mon, 24 Aug 2020 at 6pm)

vs Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium (Thurs, 27 Aug 2020) 

vs Baroka at Dobsonville Stadium (Sun, 30 Aug 2020 at 6pm

vs Polokwane City at Loftus (Wed, 2 Sep 2020 at 6pm)

vs Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium (Sat, Sept 5 2020 at 3:30pm)