Chiefs, Sundowns strike it rich after FIFA international break

 Chiefs, Sundowns strike it rich after FIFA international break

After the FIFA international break, continental and domestic resumed over the weekend.

We take a look at five takeaways from the weekend’s footie:

1. The just-ended FIFA international break has allowed erratic Kaizer Chiefs to reset their headspace and they were in fine form against Chippa United.

There were several pleasing aspects for Chiefs, starting with the return of midfielder Alexander Cole, who joined the fray as a 70th-minute substitute. It was his first 2022 appearance, and he showed some neat touches on attack. He crowned his cameo performance with a goal a few minutes ahead of time.

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For Chiefs, Khama Billiat vs Kearyn Baccus produced vastly improved performances, and it augers well for the target to end the season as Premiership runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns.

2. Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday showed they would be a force to be reckoned with in the CAF Champions League play-offs.

On Saturday, they dominated from start to finish against Al-Merrikh of Sudan and won 3-0. After an overwhelming possession advantage in the first stanza, Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi read the riot act to the players at halftime. They incurred Mngqithi’s wrath because they wasted so many scoring chances and, at times, made poor decisions.

Since the Sundowns have already won the MTN8 championship, they are on course for a clean sweep this season. The Premiership is almost in the bag, and after that, the Nedbank Cup and CAF Champions League titles will be the targets.

3. After Sunday’s 5-1 rout at the hands of Cape Town City, Baroka look like favourites for relegation this season. In an ill-tempered match, referee Nkululeko Siyeni issued red cards to Tshepo Mokhabi (Baroka) and Mduduzi Mdatsene (City).

Siyeni’s handling of the match was distasteful since many deliberate fouls and dangerous play went unpunished. City deserved the win especially after fighting back after conceding an early goal.

For Baroka, all is not lost but Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane has a massive problem with the poor discipline of his players. Apart from Mokhabi, at least two more Baroka players should have been red-carded.

4. Orlando Pirates has defied the odds to reach the Confederation Cup play-offs with an uninspiring goalless draw against Sudan’s Al-Ittihad in Orlando on Sunday.

Pirates dominated and should have won easily. However, Pirates couldn’t come to grips with the spoiling tactics of the Sundanese who were hellbent on scoring a draw to reach the quarter-finals, along with Pirates.

Pirates, the Group B winners were the most prolific goalscorers in the pool phase with 15 goals. The other teams in the quarter-final draw are Al Ahli Tripoli (Libya), Pyramids (Egypt), TP Mazembe (DR Congo), Al Masry (Egypt), RS Berkane (Morocco) and Simba (Tanzania).

5. Premiership upstarts Royal AM could graduate to CAF competitions next season after their debut year in the Premiership at the rate they are winning matches of late.

Most of the play was confined to the middle of the park and the match statistics show Royal AM had four shots on goal in their 4-1 win over relegation-doomed TS Galaxy who managed one shot at goal in 90 minutes.

Royal AM went two points clear of Chiefs near the top of the standings and if they hang on to this second place till the end of the season, they’ll be playing Champions League. If not, the chances are they could the make Confed Cup.

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