Chiefs narrowly misses third defeat
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.