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Football

Sundowns benefit from Chiefs’ implosion to win ABSA Premiership

Sundowns benefit from Chiefs’ implosion to win ABSA Premiership
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 05: Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates with the trophy during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium on September 05, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Samuel Shivambu/Gallo Images/BackpagePix)

Kaizer Chiefs were left heartbroken after relinquishing the league title to Mamelodi Sundowns at the final stretch.

After leading the pack since August 2019, Kaizer Chiefs were pipped to the Absa Premiership title on the line by Mamelodi Sundowns.

Pitso Mosimane’s men beat Black Leopards 3-0 on Saturday, while Chiefs drew 1-1 with Baroka to lose the title by just two points, after leading Sundowns by 13 points at some point in the season.

In the process Sundowns secured their 10th league title, or la decima, in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era. It was also their fifth crown since the departing Absa took over as title sponsor, and their third in a row.

Lebohang Maboe, who scored a hattrick as Sundowns secured their second successive 3-0 victory, was jubilant as he received his man of the match award.

“It hasn’t been an easy season for me, but it’s not how you start, but how you finish… You have to be mentally tough. After spending so much time in camp, even after every defeat and every draw; it’s not like you could go back to your family and see your loved ones, and actually keep away from football. We just had to stay as one and be united as a team. And, we’re a big team – so we had to make our supporters happy,” Maboe told Supersport.

The result has left Amakhosi mentor Ernst Middendorp’s future in limbo, after the pressure began to pile up on him as his team started faltering towards the finish line.  

“Ending up with possibilities in our own hands and being second after having over 28 matchdays in the number one position, of course it’s disappointing. Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns and Pitso,” said Middendorp. “It’s not my decision (whether I stay or go), other people will decide. I think in this moment we have to recognise that we’re not winning games with the DNA of a big club.”

The two results also had ramifications for the opponents of the two title contenders. The point for Baroka meant that they survived the relegation/promotion playoffs, and the loss for Leopards meant they now have to remain in the ‘bio-bubble’ to face off with GladAfrica Championship sides Ajax Cape Town and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in the playoffs.   

“Sundowns played very well. They gave everything, they were fighting, they were all over us. We couldn’t defend properly; we allowed the runners to go free. You could see they wanted this trophy,” stated Leopards coach Mongezi Bobe after the game.

The season is not yet over for Masandawana. Having also won the Telkom Knockout in December 2019, they still have a chance to secure a treble when they face Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank final on Tuesday. DM

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