Chiefs win in madefor-radio encounter
A slender victory for Kaizer Chiefs was still better than nothing coming off the Charles Mopeli Stadium pitch in Phuthaditjhaba, which is considered one of the worst by most visiting Absa Premiership teams.
The clearly battered field looked more like an abandoned carpet and did not make for good TV images either.
Ironically, it was the home side that came off worse for wear after a freak injury to their goalkeeper Daouda Diakite a few minutes before the half-time break.
The newly signed Burkina Faso international injured himself when he launched a long ball. He had to be replaced after it was suspected he damaged his left knee ligaments. His situation was so severe, he was rushed straight to hospital.
Diakite had an impressive debut for Stars until Ayanda Mtshali took his place.
The two sides tried in vain to showcase a decent passing game, but the pitch’s condition was made worse by the wet and misty climate as a result of the cold front that swept across the country yesterday.
Stars’ new coach, Belgian-born Tom Saintfiet, revealed his knowledge of Chiefs and their powerhouse status during the build-up to the game.
It was clear from his tactics that he would have been content with a point.
From the beginning, Stars dropped more players behind the ball, which made it difficult for Chiefs to invade their goal area.
But they soon opened up from relentless Chiefs attacks as the game progressed.
Amakhosi eventually benefited from a defensive mix-up when George Lebese toe-poked the ball past Mtshali in the 55th minute, despite the attention of Stars defender Angula da Costa. The score line could have been different for Chiefs had Kingston Nkhatha brought his scoring boots to Phuthaditjhaba yesterday.
Nonetheless, coach Stuart Baxter welcomed the win as an ideal morale booster ahead of the team’s upcoming tricky encounters against Mpumalanga Black Aces on Wednesday, and the MTN8 Cup semifinal first leg against bogey side Platinum Stars in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Match moments 15th minute:
Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune defused Stars’ early scoring chance but Stars striker Richard Henyekane hurried his effort when a clever chip goalward would have resulted into an open goal.
29th minute: Stars goalkeeper Daouda Diakite showed good reflexes when he parried Mandla Masango’s close blank effort.
36th minute: George Lebese went down inside the Stars goal area, but calls for a penalty were dismissed by referee Kulisande Qongqo.
Meanwhile, Polokwane City took all three points when they beat University of Pretoria 1-0 at Tuks Stadium.