JOHANNESBURG – Ananias Gebhardt scored the only goal as Baroka FC beat Mamelodi Sundowns and hand the advantage in the title race back to Kaizer Chiefs, who also lost their game earlier on Saturday.
“I blew it. It ended in tears.”
Those who suffer from self-pity appear to explain their sentiments along those lines after failed gestures. And so, such has been Kaizer Chiefs’ downfall in recent weeks that they seemed to be headed for those heart-breaking words as well.
That they lost to Bidvest Wits late into the game at FNB Stadium on Sunday afternoon following a late goal from striker Bienvenu Eva Nga appeared to have all but squandered their Premiership lead to champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Brazilians, however, failed to capitalise on the advantage as they unceremoniously lost to relegation threatened Baroka FC by a solitary goal by Gebhardt in the first 20th minute of the match.
Sundowns remained second on the standings and level with Chiefs on 53 points but inferior on goal difference, while Baroka climbed to 13th spot on the log standings to get a breather from the relegation battle ahead of the penultimate round on Wednesday.
Granted Baroka needed this win but so did Chiefs.
Amakhosi were left crossing their fingers after their loss earlier and underwhelming round of form.
To be precise, Chiefs were banking on Sundowns’ opponents to do them a world of favours: either by winning their matches or successively holding the Brazilians to draws.
Chiefs will feel hard-done by the turn of events recently as they’ve failed to win in their last four league matches, losing three and drawing one.
And such has been their underwhelming stint in those matches that an outside observer questioned the team’s mentality during crunch time.
After all, they asked, how could a team with such talent squander their title aspirations when the promise land looked so near? But then again, championship time has numerously proven that it’s not for everyone.
Asks Wits and Orlando Pirates in the last two seasons, they held the umbrella for the Brazilians.
The Brazilians, after all, are a team that has made numerous come-back-from-behind outings “to take back what’s theirs”.
But for a change, though, it looks like the league title is Chiefs’ to lose this season as they have been scooping monthly and quarterly awards in their bid to end their five-year drought.
Coach Ernst Middendorp, who added more grey hair after his team failed to score against the Clever Boys despite creating the most chances, has always been modest in his approach, saying the title race will be decided in the last two matches of the season.
Well, it appears that he nailed it. But to add, counterpart Pitso Mosimane, the Sundowns’ coach, has unceremoniously seemed to have given up on the title after an underwhelming stint since the restart.
And the delight of Amakhosi faithful, and disappointment of The Ka Bo Yellow Nation, it seems that Mosimane may have predicted everything to the tee heading into the last matches.
Chiefs remained on pole after Sunday night due to a superior five goal difference, meaning convincing wins in their last two matches may very well be enough to deliver them to the promised land.
Come the penultimate round, both teams have a huge assignments against relegation threatened team to keep their chances of winning the title alive.
Chiefs will need a win against Baroka FC and Chippa United respectively, while Sundowns need to beat Polokwane City and Black Leopards respectively.