The 2019/20 Premier Soccer League season will be decided on the final day after the top two contenders Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns both won their penultimate matches on Wednesday.
Leaders Chiefs stayed on course with a 1-0 win over nine-man Chippa United at the Orlando Stadium, with the much maligned Khama Billiat scoring the only goal, his first since September 2019 and his second of the season.
The Zimbabwean forward poked home from close range in the 9th minute after strike partner Samir Nurkovic flicked a cross from the right flank ito his path.
Club legend Itumeleng Khune started the game in place of injured first choice Daniel Akpeyi and he was called into action just after the quarter hour mark to save a deflected shot from Ruzaigh Gamildien.
The veteran made a less convincing save in the 37th minute when he punched a freekick from Gamildien back into the danger zone but was fortunate to see his defence clear away to safety.
Biliat could have bagged his brace in the first half but fired a left footed drive wildly over the bar while Daniel Cardoso cleared off his goal line after Khune was beaten by Gamildien.
Chippa United’s challenge imploded in the second half after two red cards. First, Tercious Malepe was sent off after chopping down Billiat barely inches from inside the box with the Zimbabwean clean through on goal. Then substitute Elvis Moyo was dismissed in the 88th minute for a studs-up challenge on Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
“It’s about points now,” said Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp after the game. “It’s about winning. I’m fully aware about that. It’s what presents Kaizer Chiefs there’s no doubt about it. You could see today there was two days less recovery time,” Middendorp told SuperSport TV.
“They played on Friday and we played on Sunday and this makes a huge, huge difference. We had a lot of players before the game already- I was aware about it how far it is possible to bring them through.
“Good, I’m very happy with the entire team, technical team and players that we have on what they have gone through and successfully. It was a win with a lot of fighting spirit and that’s something we needed today and need on Saturday,” he added.
Elsewhere at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns ensured that the title will be decided on the final day after they hammered Polkwane City 3-0.
Goals from Anele Ncongca, Themba Zwane and Keletso Makgalwa sealed the win and ensured that the Brazilians remain level on points with log leaders Kaizer Chiefs (who have a superior goal difference) heading into the season finale on Saturday.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane remained confident that his team were still in with a chance.
“It’s a cup final, whoever wins it wins it but we’re not going to give it to anybody [easily],” he said. “I told you when we lost not when we win, we all have to work for it hey. It’s on the edge, we don’t have it. We had one chance this year, only one chance against Baroka to come up, otherwise we’ve been chasing.
“But what’s good, to close the 13-point gap, this is what I told the boys. I said ‘to close the 13-point gap, to be where you are now’ for me I give them credit because while other people were resting, where were we?”
As it currently stands, Chiefs and Sundowns are tied on 56 points apiece but Amakhosi top the table courtesy of their superior goal difference.
The season will be decided on Saturday 5 September when Chiefs will visit Baroka FC at Bidvest Stadium while Sundowns will host Black Leopards at Dobsonville Stadium.
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