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Title rivals close in on Chiefs

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iol spt mar12 Moriri-Downs

Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

While Kaizer Chiefs were away on continental assignment, their challengers made it their mission to close in on them. Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

While Kaizer Chiefs were away on continental assignment, their challengers made it their mission to close in on them.

Mamelodi Sundowns and Wits changed the complexion of the Absa Premiership title race as they both moved to six points behind Amakhosi, who lead all and sundry with 43 points.

The latest movement has made the race even more interesting, with things likely to change in not so distant future.

Based on current form, previous clashes, quality of the sides and nature of oppositions in next matches, the race could take an interesting twist.

Chances are Sundowns and Wits might catch up with Chiefs, whose next three fixtures will not be a walk in the park.

Chiefs face troublesome opponents in their next four matches.

Their first hurdle is against Platinum Stars, whom they visit at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium this evening.

In Stars, Chiefs will be up against tough customers. The log leaders will have to be at their best to collect all the points on offer.

As is the norm for most opponents, their players are likely to raise their game against Amakhosi. One of the key areas for Stars is the right wing where speedy and skillful winger Lindokhuhle Mbatha will be operating.

Mbatha is set to test young left back Siphiwe Mtshweni, whom Stuart Baxter is likely to deploy.

Should Chiefs emerge victorious, their campaign will receive a massive boost.

After the Stars challenge, Chiefs will face their bitter rivals Orlando Pirates in what promises to be their toughest match.

As far as the Soweto derby is concerned, there are no clear favourites and it will be a daunting task for Chiefs to amass maximum points. Given the history of the derby, few would put their money on either team to win.

From the derby, Chiefs will host Ajax Cape Town.

Ironically, Ajax are the only side, besides SuperSport, that beat Chiefs this season.

They certainly will give Chiefs a run for their money.

Then Chiefs will be up against Sundowns after the Ajax clash. The second-placed Sundowns are closely pursuing Chiefs.

Other title contenders, Wits, are equally positioning themselves in the race for Absa Premiership glory. Wits have hit a rich vein of form in recent matches.

They have managed to score nine goals in three matches. The men coached by Gavin Hunt have in the process scored six goals against Tshwane and PSL giants – Sundowns and SuperSport United.

Though Wits are tied on 37 points with Sundowns, they have emerged as strong contenders to challenge Baxter’s charges.

After two successive defeats to Pirates and Wits, Sundowns chances looked gloomy for sometime before three points changed all that after victory over AmaZulu.

Sundowns had to make do without key players in Alje Schut, Katlego Mashego, Khama Billiat and Cuthbert Malajila.

In their absence, the Brazilians suffered as they fluffed chances while conceding a number of goals.

The Downs coach will be glad that influential captain Schut is close to a comeback.

His return could give the Brazilians a much-needed boost and stop the leakage at the back. If Downs fix the problems upfront, their title pursuit could bear fruits.

In comparison with Chiefs, Sundowns and Wits have relatively easy fixtures. Wits will play Free State Stars, University of Pretoria and Golden Arrows, while Sundowns will do battle against Polokwane City, Free State Stars and University of Pretoria. - Pretoria News


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