Africa / 10 January 2020, 11:30am / mihlali baleka
The sooner Mamelodi Sundowns secure their Caf Champions League knockout stage spot, the quicker they can focus on persisting domestic matters.
There are few guarantees in football, and that’s why it remains a mystery as whether Kaizer Chiefs will give up or hold on to their spot at the top of the PSL standings come May.
With that said, it becomes advisory that opponents who are looking to dethrone Amakhosi at the top of the log, create their own fortunes, instead of hoping to benefit from Chiefs’ misfortunes.
After all, Ernst Middendorp and his charges appear to be hellbent on not leaving any stone unturned - unless they are deprived of the result by Lady Luck as such was the case when they rattled the upright not once but thrice as they ended up losing 2-1 to SuperSport United in their first game of 2020.
This week, though, it appears, amid their 50th birthday that took place on Tuesday, Amakhosi have the football gods back smiling on their side as they went on to defeat Highlands Park 3-0 at a packed FNB Stadium on Wednesday to go six points clear at the top.
On Tuesday, defending league champions Sundowns were not so fortunate in their pursuit of closing the gap on Amakhosi at the top as they drew 0-0 with fellow title rivals Wits, meaning the Brazilians will be banking on Chiefs going on to lose two games to stand a chance of defending their championship.
But with four league titles under his belt in the last seven seasons, you can bet on Pitso Mosimane to know very well that his charges have got to create their own destiny by winning their matches, and let the calculators take care of themselves come May, right?
Sundowns, though, have been unconvincing in that regard, as they have only managed nine wins, five draws and two losses in 16 matches, compared to Chiefs’ impressive record of 12 wins, two draws and two losses.
That’s why it becomes important for Sundowns to get their act together and quickly seal their spot in the Champions League quarter-finals as they will need at least two wins in the next three matches.
Those aspirations resume this weekend as they welcome USM Alger to Loftus tomorrow in the start of the second round of Pan-African competition.
Sundowns will be the favourites as they defeated the Algerians in their backyard 1-0 - courtesy of a Hlompho Kekana strike - in late December.
That result ensured Sundowns went top of Group C, where they are also grouped alongside Angolan side Petro de Luanda and Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca.
Get three points tomorrow and the South Africans will take a massive step to qualifying for the next round of the continental showpiece, before their next assignment against Petro de Luanda away on 25 January.
By then, Sundowns would have had a chance to close the gap in the league as they would have already played two matches - against Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United respectively.
A win in Angola would mean that Casablanca’s visit to South Africa on 31 January for Sundowns’ last game of the group stage will then likely serve as a straight shootout to deicide who will top Group C.