Johannesburg (AFP) – Mamelodi Sundowns need a point in a clash between the South African Premiership and Cape Town City in Pretoria on Wednesday to clinch a record fifth consecutive title.
The favorable situation for the dominant club in the country happened without them playing in the renowned domestic competition as they were on duty in the CAF Champions League.
Going into the weekend, Royal AM, Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs held second, third and fourth place and were the only teams that could mathematically overtake the trailing leaders.
But Royal wasted two points in a 0-0 Durban derby draw with AmaZulu on Sunday, a day after the Chiefs failed to pick up any after losing 1-0 at Stellenbosch. Cape Town City had a bye.
Sundowns only need to draw at home to Cape Town to take an unassailable lead, pocket the top prize of 15 million rand ($970,000/895,000 euros) and secure a place in the League of Nations. CAF champions 2022-2023.
Before the clash against in-form City, Sundowns have 57 points, Royal 45, Cape Town 40 and Chiefs 39, with Orlando Pirates and Stellenbosch out of the competition.
Even if Sundowns fall in Cape Town, they have four more games, starting with mid-table Sekhukhune United on September 3, to become Premiership champions for a 12th time.
They are chasing a South African treble, having won the early season MTN 8 knockout competition and reached the semi-finals of the Nedbank (FA) Cup, where they will face Royal on Saturday.
– Another African flop –
However, the prize Sundowns crave most has eluded them again this year after a 3-2 loss to Angolan Petro Luanda at the weekend in the CAF Champions League quarter-finals.
It was the third consecutive season in which a club owned by Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe made it out of the Round of 16.
The Premiership runners-up also qualify for the Champions League and Royal are favored to remain second despite being held up by resurgent AmaZulu in a city recovering from floods that left 435 dead.
A 20-minute breakaway goal from Deano van Rooyen condemned the coachless Chiefs to defeat in the scenic Western Cape vineyards.
The Chiefs were caught napping by the pace and frankness of sixth-placed Stellenbosch after the Chiefs surrendered possession after forcing a corner.
The Johannesburg side sacked England manager Stuart Baxter three days ago, 11 months after his second stint with Chiefs, South Africa’s most successful club with 53 titles but without a trophy since 2016.
“Our players lack confidence and are afraid to speak up,” admitted interim coach and former Chiefs star winger Arthur Zwane.
“They have to get bold, have flair and be cocky on the ball. We are Kaizer chefs and nothing but the best will do.