Richards Bay regain second spot, as Chiefs end year with winDecember 31, 2022
Richards Bay regained second place in the South African Premiership thanks to a 1-0 win over lowly Swallows in Durban on Saturday.
Left-back Tshepo Mabua scored his first goal of the league campaign for the newcomers by converting an 11th-minute penalty for the surprise packets of the 2022-2023 season.
Victory lifted promoted Bay to 26 points, two more than SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs, both multiple winners of the richest league in Africa.
Richards Bay, who were expected to be relegation candidates, trail leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by five points as the 30-round season approaches the halfway point.
Despite their lofty position, club owner Jomo Biyela says the main objective is “to stay in the Premiership for next season”.
“We have a wonderful environment. The boys train each day, then have lunch together. We do not have players who dash to the car park after practising and drive off.”
Biyela believes key factors were retaining the majority of the promotion-winning squad and hiring former AmaZulu assistant Vasili Manousakis to co-coach the team with Pitso Dladla.
“Pitso is a very good young coach but we did not want to throw him into the deep end alone,” added the official.
Inadequate facilities at their ground in a harbour town mean they play home matches in Durban, 170 kilometres (105 miles) away.
Soweto outfit Swallows are one point above the relegation zone having won just three of 13 matches and changed coaches twice with German Ernst Middendorp the latest incumbent.
In another Durban match, success-starved Chiefs triumphed 2-0 over hosts Golden Arrows through first-half goals from Burundian Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana and Mozambican Edmilson Dove.
Bimenyimana tops the Premiership goal charts with seven after joining Chiefs this year from Kazakhstan club Kaisar.
Johannesburg-based Chiefs have won a record 54 domestic titles, but none since being crowned league champions in 2015.