Bucs hold all the cards, Chiefs hold out for hope
MIHLALI BALEKA firstname.lastname@example.org
African News Agency
AND then there were two! The penultimate games of the Dstv Premiership could all but decide the team that will finish as runners-up in the league this season. It’s been another topsy-turvy season for Mamelodi Sundowns’ rivals, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, who’ve had to watch in pain as they soared to another title – their sixth in a row. But between Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns’ eternal enemies Supersport United, only one of the three teams could finish as the champions’ bridesmaids and join them in the Champions League next season. Ahead of the last two games of the season, Pirates hold the runners-up spot with a two-point cushion. This is an advantage that their coach, Jose Riveiro, has welcomed with both hands, especially after his team’s “brilliant performances” in April earned him the Coach of the Month award. “Yes, absolutely! We don’t have to see anybody else. We are focusing on our plans and not only the way that we want to win the next game but the upcoming ones as well,” Riveiro said. “The fact that we have a small advantage is giving us a possibility of not feeling any other external pressure or distraction about what the others are doing.” Pirates could seal their fate as soon as this afternoon if they beat Sekhukhune United at home and Chiefs beat Supersport in their match, which will kick off simultaneously (3pm) in Rustenburg. The Buccaneers’ clash against Babina Noko has a bigger picture to it in that it will also set the tone for the two teams’ meeting in the Nedbank Cup final at Loftus Versfeld on May 27. The Sea Robbers are headed for their best season in ages as they are on the cusp of three honours: the league’s runnersup spot and two domestic cups – having won the MTN8 last year. Bucs No 1 goalkeeper Sipho Chaine argues, though, that failure to do well in their last two games in the league will not necessarily define their season. “No, you don't just sum up a season in two games. The same way you don’t sum up a season (by winning) five games in a row,” Chaine said. “It’s just about building something towards a goal and when you’re reaching towards that goal, you don’t judge yourself based on two games or based on five games (you won consecutively).” Babina Noko will make the trip to Orlando full of confidence after reaching their maiden cup final in just a few seasons of existence and eager to delay Pirates’ qualification for the Champions League. Failure to do that will not deter them. If they lose they’ll still qualify for the Confederation Cup next season due to being the Ke Yona Cup finalists. Meanwhile, Supersport have an advantage compared to their counterparts this afternoon. They hold the third spot, which also guarantees Confederation Cup football next season, while they lead Chiefs by four points. That’s why a win or a draw for them in Rustenburg will secure them a top three finish – which would be their best finish to a campaign since incumbent Gavin Hunt was at the club in 2010. For Chiefs, failure to finish in the top three – amid their extended eightyear trophy drought – will be regarded as disastrous despite the rebuilding phase under new coach Arthur Zwane. Chiefs must win their last two games against Supersport and Cape Town City and hope other results go in their favour, if they are to make the top three.