Chiefs be­hind the eight-ball

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Si­bongiseni Gumbi

Kaizer Chiefs have a moun­tain to climb if they are to make good on their wish to progress to the group stages of the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup after suf­fer­ing a 3-1 de­feat to Zam­bia’s Zesco United in the first leg of a play-off match at Levy Mwanawasa Sta­dium yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

The away goal gives Amakhosi some lee­way but they will have to win the sec­ond leg by two goals or more with­out Zesco re­ply­ing to stand a chance of ad­vanc­ing fur­ther. It was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for Ernst Mid­den­dorp’s side who are still in a re­build­ing phase against an al­ready well-oiled Zesco team.

Chiefs held their own in the first few min­utes of the match, but the hosts broke the dead­lock 25 min­utes in when Lazarus Kam­bole opened the scor­ing. Jesse Were in­creased the score to 2-0 just six min­utes later from the penalty spot, and it looked as if Amakhosi were headed for a heavy drub­bing.

But Khama Bil­liat (below) re­duced the ar­rears in the 42nd minute to take Chiefs into half­time with a chance of stag­ing a fightback in the sec­ond pe­riod.

But it was not to be as easy for the Soweto gi­ants as Were got his sec­ond of the match nine min­utes into the sec­ond half to make it 3-1 and this time the vis­i­tors were not able to come back.

The Glam­our Boys tried ev­ery­thing to find an­other goal but found the Zesco de­fence stand­ing firm.

With time run­ning out, Mid­den­dorp took a cal­cu­lated risk and with­drew de­fen­sive mid­fielder Wil­lard Kat­sande, re­plac­ing him with striker Ryan Moon.

But un­for­tu­nately the gam­ble didn’t work as they could not find the goal that would have made their job eas­ier.

Chiefs now turn their fo­cus to their ail­ing Absa Premier­ship cam­paign and pre­pare for what is po­ten­tially a six-pointer against AmaZulu in Dur­ban on Wed­nes­day night.

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