After leading the entire 2019-20 Absa Premiership campaign, Kaizer Chiefs let the title slip in a 1-1 draw with Baroka while Mamelodi Sundowns beat Black Leopards to secure a third successive title.
Amakhosi came into the game knowing that three points would hand them the title, barring a massive swing-around in goal difference, with Mamelodi Sundowns playing Black Leopards and sitting level on points with Chiefs before kick-off.
Baroka, however, were fighting for their league survival and needed to better Leopards’ result against Downs.
Ernst Middendorp named an unchanged lineup from their win over Chippa United on Wednesday evening, while Baroka welcomed back goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze between the sticks.
Chiefs started on the front foot and had an early chance to open the scoring, but Lebogang Manyama was could not connect to a cross whipped into the back post from the right-hand side.
The chances kept coming for Chiefs as this time Samir Nurkovic went close to scoring as he forced a smart close-range save from Chipezeze with 13 minutes gone.
The Zimbabwean shotstopper was again called into action just before the water break as he made a flying save to save Reeve Frosler’s thumping drive from afar.
The Soweto giants finally took the lead five minutes before the break as Itumeleng Khune’s long ball was brilliantly chested down by Nurkovic into the path of Khama Billiat, who controlled with perfection before calmly slotting it into the bottom corner.
Chiefs were leading at the break with the title in sight.
The Glamour Boys continued to threaten few long balls and set plays at the start of the second half, with both Nurkovic and Eric Mathoho having glimpses on goal.
It was Bakgaga, though, who took advantage of a set piece as Gerald Phiri Jnr swung in a free kick which was met with a power header from Manuel Kambala which left Khune with little chance. It was 1-1 and Sundowns now had the advantage after 59 minutes played.
Chiefs then began to throw everything forward in search of a goal with Middendorp making a triple change with 70 minutes gone, bringing on Dumisani Zuma, Lazarous Kambole and Anthony Akumu for Willard Katsande, Kgotso Moleko and Bernard Parker.
The game, and the title, looked to be slipping away from the Soweto giants as their constant pressure was being met by Baroka resilience.
Despite throwing all they could at it, Chiefs could not find the vital breakthrough and saw the title slip away with Sundowns doing the job against Black Leopards.
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