at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Pretoria – SuperSport United coach Cavin Johnson has not ruled out catching log-leading Kaizer Chiefs before the end of the season, despite trailing Amakhosi by 11 points midway though the season.
Johnson’s team climbed up to third in the Premiership on Wednesday evening, courtesy of a 2-0 victory over visiting Mpumalanga Black Aces in Atteridgeville.
“I think what we’re creating is a nice race to the last few games,” Johnson said after the game at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
“We’ve been winning one, losing one, drawing one and for us, if Kaizer Chiefs slip up, then we are in with a chance.”
Thuso Phala and Bennet Chenene scored either side of half-time, as Matsatsantsa returned to league action following their 2-0 win over Botswana's Gaborone United in a Caf Confederations Cup tie at the same venue over the weekend.
With games coming thick-and-fast for Johnson’s title contenders, the former Platinum Stars boss did concede his team were not the front-runners among the chasing pack.
“The likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Wits have a couple of games in hand and they have the possibility of winning those games and bagging their points, then putting a lot of pressure on Chiefs,” Johnson said.
“It makes good for the last run of the league. Everybody has to push and no teams are relaxing, they all need the points.
“But in saying that, we want to make the race as close as possible and the way we’re playing now, with games every third day, that makes us more football competitive.”
Johnson believed his team had made significant strides throughout the season, adding that United had matured and carved out a style of play which suited them well.
“The overall performance for us is not about this game. It’s a culmination of many games and when I look back, for us it’s about the progress on the field.
“Yes, the goals are not coming, we should be a little bit more technical within the last third of the pitch.
“Then we can put away the goals that we create, but we like the way we’re building up now, we like the way we’re not taking chances in defence.”
Meanwhile, Black Aces coach Clive Barker admitted his side lacked match-sharpness and were undercooked heading into the game. This was due to a fixture list which has been unkind to the Mpumalanga outfit, he said.
Aces became the last team to play a league fixture in the new year, having last appeared on December 22.
In that time, United had taken part in five matches, including four Premiership games, as well as a Caf Confederations Cup tie. It told in the end as Aces were brushed aside by a team who looked fitter and tidier on the pitch.
“We weren’t quite good enough, we weren’t quite fit enough,” Barker said.
“Without making any excuses, when you haven’t played for seven weeks, it does make it difficult and we weren’t sharp enough and I think it was because we needed games.
“I’m glad we got the game under our belt, I think we’ll be a lot better for it. Had we had a couple more games, we might have been a bit closer to SuperSport, but they deserved to win the game.”
Aces spurned a host of opportunities in front of goal which should have put them back in the game, but it was not to be for Barker’s team, who next face a tricky assignment against Maritzburg United on Sunday.
“I think we caught it all wrong tonight because of the no game situation,” Barker said.
“You’ll probably find that if we get a result against Maritzburg United in our next game, I’m quite sure that we’ll be back in the race.” – Sapa