Johannesburg (AFP) – Kaizer Chiefs were one of only two top-half clubs to win in the South African Premiership this weekend with a Bernard Parker goal earning a 1-0 win at Maritzburg United.
Goals were also scarce with the eight matches on Saturday and Sunday producing just 11 — and seven of those came in two matches.
While teams filling the top eight positions struggled in the richest African league — the champions pocket 15 million rand ($955,000/845,000 euros) — three of the bottom five won during matchday 11.
A short corner and a cross enabled former international Parker to head powerfully past German goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt after 63 minutes of a match that kicked off 90 minutes late due to a power failure.
Chiefs remained sixth despite the victory, eight points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played one match fewer than the other top-half clubs.
Sundowns have 26 points, Stellenbosch 21, promoted Sekhukhune United 20 and goal difference separates SuperSport United, Royal AM and Chiefs, all of whom have 18.
Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu, with 15 points each, are the other sides in the top half of the standings in a league bankrolled by pan-African sport broadcasters SuperSport.
No club is more desperate than Chiefs to top the final standings as the Soweto outfit has endured six seasons without a trophy since winning the 2015 Premiership.
– Cape Town hold Sundowns –
Winners of a record 53 domestic trophies and one of the richest African football clubs, Chiefs recently rehired English coach Stuart Baxter, who won four trophies during a previous stint with them.
“Our second half performance really pleased me,” said the former South Africa coach after the victory over Maritzburg.
“We were lively and aggressive at a stadium where visiting clubs usually battle to collect maximum points. Our goal was well executed having been planned during training.”
Sundowns failed to secure maximum points for only the second time in 10 Premiership outings when held 0-0 at Cape Town City.
Stellenbosch, who narrowly dodged relegation last season, are the only other unbeaten side in the league and seemed set to beat visiting AmaZulu after establishing a two-goal advantage.
Nigerian Stanley Dimgba broke the deadlock on 59 minutes and was involved in the build-up to the second goal, scored by Ashley du Preez.
Sphesihle Maduna halved the deficit with a low shot from outside the box and the wind helped a Keagan Buchanan corner land in the net two minutes from time to salvage a point for AmaZulu.