Sport

TOUCHING DISTANCE

Cape Town City can finally usurp log leaders Sundowns in the Premiership

Cape Town City can finally usurp log leaders Sundowns in the Premiership
Eric Tinkler, coach of Cape Town City FC during his team's DStv Premiership match against Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium on 29 October, 2023 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Cape Town City have closed the gap on an inactive Mamelodi Sundowns through their impressive league form of late. Now they have a chance to leapfrog the leaders. Even if temporarily.   

It is a damning indictment of the gulf in class and quality between Mamelodi Sundowns and the teams desperate to halt the Tshwane giant’s monopoly of the DStv Premiership that despite not playing in two months, the Brazilians still sit on top of the pile.

Sundowns, who are heavy favourites to clinch a sixth Premiership title on the spin, last played a league match on 27 September. Since then, they have been travelling the African continent. A journey which culminated in Rulani Mokwena and his men clinching the inaugural African Football League (AFL).

Now the Brazilians turn their attention to the Caf Champions League, a piece of silverware that they have been famished for since first winning it in 2016. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: African Football League bounty bolsters Sundowns’ already seemingly unreachable dominant domestic dynasty

This weekend they will kick-start another concerted effort to reclaim the trophy and add it to the AFL success. They face Mauritania’s Nouadhibou in their opening group game.

Sundowns’ continental obligations mean that heading into this weekend of Premiership action, one of the two teams near Masandawana can finally leapfrog the defending champions. If they win.

As it stands, Masandawana are perched at the summit with eight wins from eight games so far. Tshwane neighbours SuperSport trail Sundowns by a solitary point. But they have played four more games.

Cape Town City are third and two points adrift of the log leaders. Just like SuperSport, Eric Tinkler’s men have also played 12 games. With second-placed SuperSport also in continental action — in the Caf Confederation Cup — City has the perfect opportunity to move to the top.

Taahir Goedeman of Cape Town City FC, Siyanda Msani of Cape Town Spurs

Taahir Goedeman of Cape Town City FC and Siyanda Msani of Cape Town Spurs during their DStv Premiership match at DHL Stadium on 30 September, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

They face fourth-placed Golden Arrows on Sunday, 26 November, at 5.45pm. The Durbanites have had a blistering start to the season, coached by their former striker Mabhuti Khenyeza.

Normally a mid-table team at best, Abafana Besthende are mixing it up with the best at the summit of the Premiership. They trail Sundowns by just four points after four games.

However, they head into the tussle with the Capetonians on the back three defeats on the trot. By contrast, City has won five in five league matches recently. Something which City coach Tinkler hopes will work to their advantage.

“Obviously, we come up against a team that has always been very difficult for us. Even though over the past seasons, we have beaten them, the games were always extremely tough,” Tinkler said to City’s media department.

“Recently we lost to them in the Carling Knockout. But we come off the back of five wins. So, we need to go into this game with a lot of belief, confidence and morale. But at the same time, not show any complacency,” the former Bafana Bafana midfielder added.  

“They are going through a period [of losing]. Their confidence and morale are not where they should be. We need to [use that] to our advantage. Make sure that we go there and put on a good performance. And ultimately ensure that we try to come back with maximum points.”

Asanele Velebayi

Asanele Velebayi (centre) of Cape Town Spurs. (Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

The other end

At the other end of the table, bottom dwellers Cape Town Spurs have appointed the well-travelled Ernst Middendorp to try and salvage their floundering season.

The newly promoted side only has three points to show after 11 league matches. They anchor the Premiership and are backed by many to fall back to the second tier. Just as Sundowns are favoured to win the title.

To help them shake off this title, Spurs have roped in the former Kaizer Chiefs, Maritzburg United and Chippa United coach. He replaces former Bafana Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett at the helm.

The latter is the one who helped the team reach the top flight. However, since then results have not been forthcoming, necessitating Bartlett’s departure in early October.

The German coach’s first task at the helm is a clash against Royal AM. The KwaZulu-Natal club is currently 14th on the league table, despite the financial resources provided by the club’s owner and businesswoman Shauwn Mkhize.  

Spurs will aim to bag their second win in the Premiership this season, after 10 losses. DM

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