Ernst Middendorp's Amakhosi have led the Absa Premiership race for the most part of the season. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The red dot on Kaizer Chiefs’ forehead will grow larger this month, with not only the chasing pack looking to knock them off the perch, but every other club in the league as the battle for places intensify in the second half of the season.

Amakhosi have led the Absa Premiership race for the most part of the season. They start the year sitting comfortably at the summit with a seven-point lead to second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns. The one question that has been posed to Chiefs throughout their run is, can they be stopped?

While rival fans and coaches have consistently said that it’s still too early to be calling Chiefs champions yet, the same can also be said that Amakhosi haven’t reached their full potential and there is room for growth.

They have shown great character to come back from matches where they looked dead and buried.

Ernst Middendorp has also used his bench well, with Dumisani Zuma earning himself the reputation of a potent impact player, while the German has been managing Khama Billiat, who has been overworked in the past couple of years.

January will be a testing month for Amakhosi, who will play five games this month, starting against SuperSport United at Mbombela Stadium tomorrow.

Highlands Park, Cape Town City, Black Leopards and Lamontville Golden Arrows will also face Amakhosi this month.

“We have quite a solid package of games in January,” Middendorp said. “It’s a bit hectic in the beginning, on the fourth, eighth and 12th, but through the shifting of the match against Bidvest (Wits), we have five games in January.

“Five games in four weeks should be manageable. It is not really confusing or irritating.

“We have to do a good job in terms of the start. We had a short break of three days. From the 26th of December we were in full run, preparing ourselves. I don’t really see the input of the break, on how it could kill our momentum.

“We have a very clear plan set up already, detailed until the end of January. I am looking forward to it.”

Chiefs will celebrate their 50th anniversary on January 8 when they take on the Lions of the North, a day after the club was founded 50 years ago.

Fans have been given free entrance to that match to create a festive atmosphere, something Chiefs haven’t experienced in four seasons.

The desire to end that barren run and ensure that Chiefs celebrate this milestone in style in May is the fuel that’s driving the unstoppable Chiefs runaway train.

They will face many obstacles in their path. Their mental strength will be key in negotiating their way through those roadblocks.

The first big obstacle will be Matsatsantsa a Pitori in Mbombela. That match will be shaped by the midfield battle of these two sides.

Chiefs’ midfield will face the tough trio of Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule, who shared a podium with Middendorp when the pair was handed the Premiership Coach and Player of the Month awards for November.

Bonginkosi Ndadane