Chiefs extend lead to five points

Kaizer Chiefs extended their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership ahead of this weekend’s Soweto derby with a 2-0 away win over 10-man Chippa United at Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.

After a goalless first half, the turning point arrived soon after the restart when the Cape Town team was reduced to 10 men – Chiefs scored a few minutes later through Kaizer Motaung Jnr and a late strike from Kingston Nkhatha ensured they picked up all three points from match seen as a potential ‘banana skin’ ahead of their big showdown with title rivals Orlando Pirates on Saturday.

Chiefs started off the better of the two teams and created a few half chances within the first quarter hour of the match. However, Chippa nearly claimed the lead on 18 minutes through former Amakhosi player Stanton Lewis, who shot just over the crossbar after meeting William Twala’s fine cross from the right flank.

Chiefs suffered an injury setback when Matthew Rusike pulled up with what appeared to be a groin or thigh problem, paving the way for substitute Kaizer Motaung Jnr to make just his second appearance of the 2012/13 season when he came off the bench in the 22nd minute.

The Soweto side had a strong shout for a penalty turned down just before the half hour mark when Keegan Ritchie was brought down by Vuyisile Ntombayithethi, but the referee strangely gave a free kick in the opposite direction.

Chippa were also forced into a first half change when defender Tshepo Tomanyane succumbed to an earlier knock to the head and was replaced by James Okwousa. In the 42nd minute Masibusane Zongo forced Itumeleng Khune into a good, low save with a grass-cutter from the edge of the box.

The score was 0-0 at the halftime whistle and Chiefs knew by this stage that they were in for a real battle if they were going to take all three points back to Soweto. The Chilli Boys would have pleased with their endeavour and hard-work both on and off the ball.

Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter opted for a more attacking approach at the start of the second half, sending on striker Sthembiso Ngcobo in place of wide-man Mandla Masango, who was completely anonymous in the first stanza.

The visitors were handed the initiative in the 53rd minute when Chippa midfielder Buyani Sali was shown a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Willard Katsande. The incident was perhaps more worthy of a yellow, as Sali’s tackle was just mistimed and not high or malicious.

It took Chiefs just five minutes to take advantage of their numerical advantage and move into the lead. A long throw-in from Morgan Gould was flicked-on by Tefu Mashamaite and an unmarked Motaung Jnr headed home for his first goal of the campaign.

On 64 minutes Kingston Nkhatha almost took advantage of a poor back-pass by Mbulelo Mabizela, but goalkeeper Daouda Kassaly was able to get his body in the way and make a brave block to keep the Chilli Boys just one goal down.

Seven minutes later Chippa coach Wilfred Mugeyi introduced new signing Benjani Mwaruwari off the bench for his debut, with the Zimbabwean striker making a return to PSL football about a decade after having starred for Jomo Cosmos.

Yet even with the former Manchester City and Portsmouth attacker on the pitch, Chippa never really looked like finding an equaliser. Instead it was Chiefs who threatened to add to their lead with several quick attacks on the counter, and on 87 minutes Kassaly saved from Ngcobo’s effort, but Nkhatha was on hand to finish the rebound and make it 2-0.

Chippa United 0
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 2 (Motaung Jnr 58’, Nkhatha 87’)

Chippa: Kassaly, Ntombayithethi, Mvalo, Mabizela, Tomanyane (Okwousa 41’), Twala, Sali, Carelse, Zongo, Lewis (Sauls 63’), Qalanto (Benjani 71’)

Chiefs: Khune, Gaxa, Mashamaite, Gould, Ritchie, Masango (Ngcobo 46’), Katsande, Letsholonyane, Tshabalala, Rusike (Motaung Jnr 22’), Nkhatha