JOHANNESBURG - With Christmas around the corner, Kaizer Chiefs’ stalwart Siphiwe Tshabalala sounded like the Grinch with his ominous warning that the party at the top of the PSL standings will end soon.
Only five teams have won more matches than they have drawn in a season characterised by a high number of stalemates thanks to inconsistent displays. This has seen positions at the top swapped willy-nilly as a win can see a team jump from seventh place to the summit. Amakhosi lie in third place with just one win from their last six matches. A candid Tshabalala admitted that they were lucky to find themselves in the top three with that return.
“Since I started playing professionally in the PSL (in 2004), I don’t recall this happening,” Tshabalala said. “I think that the league has been kind to a lot of teams, including us whereby we drop points yet we still aren’t far from the log leaders. But that’s something that will change soon.
"There are teams that once the heat is on and consistency is demanded from them, they’ll be in danger (and they will fall off). The current log tells you that consistency is key and consistency has been a challenge for most of the teams.
"We just have to focus on ourselves and get as many points as we can. Consistency is something that we need to work on next year. There’s isn’t much time to work on that because next year is next month. There are big games coming in January.”
Chiefs will not finish 2017 at the top of the table even if they beat Ajax Cape Town on Saturday at Moses Mabhida Stadium in their last match of the year. A win would only take Chiefs to 22 points, three points behind Mamelodi Sundowns who will play two games before the end of the year.
The Brazilians shook off their slow start to the season to set the pace at the summit. Sundowns have won six of their last five games and conceded just one goal in the process - a brilliant free kick from Orlando Pirates’ Marc van Heerden.
“They (Sundowns) are doing well,” Tshabalala said. “They are a top team. They are one of those teams that once they start collecting points, they can pose real danger. But I think at the moment the race is still open. Me saying that the race is still open doesn’t mean that we can relax.
"Next year things won’t be like they are at the moment, with the league being kind to us. Sundowns are showing their intentions of going all the way. I think that we have to start doing that also by winning three or four games in a row. That would be great for us, to find momentum.”
Chiefs’ biggest problem is their misfiring strikers. Amakhosi have scored just 12 goals in 14 matches, way off the mark for a club that has ambitions of challenging for the league. Chiefs have scored just two goals in their last six matches. Tshabalala leads the club’s scoring charts with a paltry four goals.
“We’ve been lacking in that department, not scoring enough goals,” Tshabalala said. “We should take responsibility for that. We do create good goalscoring chances, but we don’t convert those chances. It’s a challenge for us, a challenge that requires one to come up with a solution and ensure that going forward we convert those chances.”