But defender Clayton Daniels believes they will be back in contention, with fellow championship contenders likely to cancel each other out this month.
There will be several top of the table match-ups in April, starting with yet another Tshwane derby on Wednesday night as SuperSport host Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium to try and get one over their cross-town rivals, following last Thursday’s humiliation at Loftus Versfeld.
Stuart Baxter, the losing coach that evening, would not even entertain title talks, arguing that a side that’s just been handed such a heavy defeat were not worthy of discussing championship aspirations as they dropped to fifth position.
“We lost our identity that night,” said Daniels.
“We are a side good on transition, set-pieces and are among the best in defending as a collective. But we forgot all that against Sundowns, who used the speed of Khama Billiat and Percy Tau. They humbled us and they were just better. But I think the title is still within reach.”
Log-leaders Cape Town City will also be welcoming third-placed Bidvest Wits in the Mother City tonight, and if the two sides only manage to share the spoils, a win for SuperSport will be a huge advantage before they travel to Wits a week later, while Kaizer Chiefs, in second place, visit City.
It looks likely that April will provide a much clearer picture of who the genuine contenders are, with only a few matches remaining.
“The most consistent of the top five teams at the moment will probably go on to win the title,” said Daniels.
“If we are back to our best in the next three or four matches, I think we can count ourselves back in the race. It hurt us to lose to Sundowns in the manner we did last week, but we are prepared to fight.”
The defender said the weekend’s 5-0 win over Liberia’s Barrack Young Controllers in the CAF Confederation Cup, a result that sent SuperSport into the group stages of the continental competition, was more than a simple morale-booster.
Baxter’s men were clinical as striker Jeremy Brockie bagged a hat-trick to help his side advance 6-1 on aggregate and prepare for the Tshwane derby in fine fashion, although the coach had made a few changes to his line-up.
“We were emotional in how we played against Sundowns and never really followed instructions,” Daniels explained.
“But we were much better in the CAF game. If we can play like that again and in the same way we played in the second half of our game against Sundowns, then I would say that is our identity.
“We are a stubborn side, but last week we learnt the hard way.”
Daniels also urged his teammates to forget about the possibility of Baxter leaving to join Bafana Bafana after the club confirmed three weeks ago that the coach was in talks with the SA Football Association to take over the vacant national team post.
But nothing has come out of that so far, except reports that negotiations are stalling because Baxter is allegedly making some ridiculous demands before he accepts the offer.
“All we need to do is be professional,” said Daniels. “If the coach goes, we need to make sure he has our blessings and we give him a send off he will never forget.
“He has laid a solid foundation for this team, and the only way to reward that is by playing well and try to go all out for the title and the Nedbank Cup.”