Business Day

Chiefs nar­rowly misses third de­feat

- SIBUSISO MJIKELISO FNB Sta­dium

KAIZER Chiefs nar­rowly avoided a third straight de­feat of the new sea­son when they hot-wired a 1-1 draw against Plat­inum Stars at FNB Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day night.

De­feat would have been calami­tous for coach Steve Kom­phela, whose team last won a game at the end of April, 10 matches ago. They also only have one win in 14 matches in all com­pe­ti­tions.

But Pule Ek­stein’s striker, which can­celled out Robert Ng’ambi’s first-half goal, was enough to stave off the vul­tures from the em­bat­tled coach.

Amakhosi started the game with promis­ing in­ten­sity, like they would rid them­selves of the demons that re­stricted their of­fen­sive play. Zim­bab­wean debu­tant Ed­more Chi­ram­badare was busy down the left flank, but few Chiefs play­ers as­sisted him.

But Stars were pa­tient through it all and they showed their dan­ger on the counter-at­tack when Sibusiso Msomi missed a shot af­ter Ng’ambi’s toethrough put him in space. Ndu­miso Mabena ri­fled one shot that stung Itume­leng Khune’s palms five min­utes later.

Chiefs played with ner­vous en­ergy and the vis­i­tors could sense the crowd’s ag­i­ta­tion and used it to their ad­van­tage. They frus­trated Chiefs, es­pe­cially in­side their own de­fen­sive area, which made the Chiefs at­tack­ers, who are al­ready de­void of con­fi­dence, look im­po­tent.

Chiefs Kom­phela, mean­while, cut a lonely fig­ure down the touch­line. Some­thing about his plan to mould the Glam­our Boys into his own im­age just isn’t go­ing the way he had planned.

There is now no trace left of the Kaizer Chiefs un­der Stu­art Bax­ter, the team that made it dif­fi­cult for the op­po­si­tion to steal even a point against them. Kom­phela has suc­cess­fully con­tam­i­nated a suc­cess­ful team and brought it down to the level of his pre­vi­ous clubs Free State Stars and Mar­itzburg United.

It ap­peared as if there were cob­webs in Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s mind. Hav­ing been shifted back to full­back to make way for Eric Mathoho in the cen­tre of de­fence, Mphahlele hardly bombed for­ward as he would have done at Mamelodi Sun­downs. A lot of his touches were poor. But he wasn’t blun­der­ing alone. Tshepo Masilela was un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally be­low par. He was of­ten caught out of po­si­tion, which meant Lorenzo Gordinho had to pull him­self from the mid­dle to cover for him.

The goal Chiefs con­ceded, scored by Ng’ambi, typ­i­fied their ten­u­ous de­fend­ing. Masilela gave the ball away, which in­vited Stars pres­sure to their goal. Hen­rico Botes looped a ball to­wards the dan­ger area and Ng’ambi volleyed, Khune got fin­ger­tips to it and the ball hit the un­der­side of the cross bar and was judged to have crossed the line.

TV re­plays showed that the ball had not crossed the line, but SA does not have the tech­nol­ogy to counter the pos­si­bil­ity of hu­man er­ror.

Chi­ram­badare had a chance be­fore half-time, but failed to find a pass to Ed­ward Man­qele.

Kom­phela must have spewed ex­ple­tives in the chang­ing room at the break be­cause Chiefs threw all they had to Dik­wena in the sec­ond half. They had a few chances from set pieces be­fore Ek­stein scored the scrap­pi­est goal of the sea­son so far in the 72nd minute.

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