Cape Town — Royal AM's unexpected DStv Premiership loss to lowly Maritzburg United on Wednesday has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons with regards to three CAF places that are up for grabs when the season ends in a fortnight.
Mamelodi Sundowns have already secured the Premiership title and are guaranteed a place in next year’s Champions League. Of late, the form book has started to look like a comic strip because apart from Maritzburg's killer blow, rock-bottom Baroka defeated Top 8-bound Golden Arrows to complete a day of shocks on Wednesday.
The second Champions League slot behind Sundowns will be a first prize, and then the two Confederation Cup slots (3rd and 4th placed teams) will be a second prize.
Since the ascension of Patrice Motsepe to the CAF throne, the second-tier Confederation Cup has become a lucrative business. Pirates have already earned R7m for reaching the semis. If they reach the final, they are guaranteed R10m.
With that kind of money on the table, the clubs have their eyes fixed on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Apart from Royal AM, Cape Town City, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, and Stellenbosch have all joined the scramble as the Premiership hits the home straight.
Royal AM's battle royale
If it was not for the Maritzburg setback, Royal AM would have stolen a march on Cape Town City, who are riding the crest of a wave. Both teams, after 27 matches are locked on 45 points but Royal AM's superior goal difference secures the second place. Royal AM will play Pirates, Golden Arrows, and Sundowns in their remaining matches. A battle royale is slated for all three games.
Cape Town City, the city slickers
No one would have foreseen City's tremendous form as the season winds down. Over the last few rounds City have the best record and are unbeaten in the previous 10 league games. City have three matches outstanding starting with lowly TS Galaxy on Saturday, and then ever-improving AmaZulu and derby rivals Stellenbosch in their final match.
Kaizer Chiefs, How the mighty have fallen
Chiefs are in fourth place and three points adrift of Royal AM and CT City. After their dreadful form of late, they have kissed their Champions League hopes goodbye, and interim co-coach Arthur Zwane have admitted that much. In their remaining three games, Chiefs play Sundowns on Sunday and then Sekhukhune United. They end with a Soweto Derby against relegation-threatened Swallows.
Orlando Pirates, in and out of Africa
The fifth-placed Pirates (40 points) will be coping with a serious distraction over the next two weeks. Starting Sunday, over the next two weeks, Pirates will be playing the Confed Cup semi-final over two legs. Their local Premiership matches will be rescheduled once their CAF fate is known. They too have had rotten form, and points will be hard to come by in the remaining matches against Royal AM, Maritzburg and SuperSport United.
Stellenbosch, the surprise packets
The sixth-placed Stellenbosch are, like Pirates, on 40 points. It may a tad too much to expect them to challenge for one of the two Confed Cup spots. However, if both Soweto teams immediately above them slump they could be shown the green light into Africa. Stellenbosch host Maritzburg on Saturday and then play Sundowns and City in their final two matches.