Chippa United (0) 0
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 1
(Du Preez 72’)
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Gqeberha
Kaizer Chiefs bounced back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat against Sekhukhune United with a 1-0 victory over Chippa United in front of a capacity crowd enjoying their Freedom Day at a sun-drenched Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on Thursday.
A sumptuous 72nd minute goal from Ashley Du Preez won the match and keeps Amakhosi’s hopes of continental qualification for next season alive. Chiefs remain in fourth place in the DStv Premiership standings - on 44 points - but moved to within two of third-placed Orlando Pirates, with three games left in the campaign.
Coach Arthur Zwane was without two of his most dependable stars, with skipper Keagan Dolly and defender Edmilson Dove unavailable after picking up injuries in their last outing against Sekhukhune.
In Dolly’s absence, Yusuf Maart was given the honour of wearing the armband and leading the team out for the first time in an official match.
Chiefs made a strong start and Christian Saile brought a save from Chilli Boys goalkeeper Lloyd Kazapua inside five minutes. Amakhosi dominated the opening exchanges and Chippa were fortunate on more than a few occasions to be rescued by the assistant’s offside flag, with some decisions highly questionable.
The best chance of the first half fell to teenage sensation, Mduduzi Shabalala, who struck the crossbar from six yards out after Saile had twisted Chippa fullback, Azola Ntsabo, inside out with a magnificent piece of trickery before laying the ball square to Shabalala.
The fleet-footed Congolese forward was proving too hot for the home side to handle as he combined well with Reeve Frosler on the right to terrorise the Chippa United back line.
With just over half an hour played, Du Preez came close to a spectacular opener when his corner looked like it would sneak in under the bar until Kazapua beat it away just before it crossed the goal line.
Amakhosi had another opportunity to trouble the Namibian keeper on the stroke of half-time but Happy Mashiane struck his free kick into the defensive wall and, from the resultant corner, Kazapua was forced to react quickly to tip Frosler’s dangerous ball over the bar.
The half ended goalless.
The second period played out much like the first had ended, with Chiefs on top and looking to turn their ascendancy into something tangible.
Du Preez volleyed over in the 53rd minute and, three minutes later, Saile just failed to convert Frosler’s low cross to the far post.
On 64 minutes, Brandon Petersen’s excellent long kick found Du Preez, who nodded the ball into Maart’s path. The stand-in captain burst clear through on goal from halfway but sadly lacked the raw pace to outstrip the chasing defenders and was caught before he could trouble Kazapua.
Following further half-chances that fell to Saile and Shabalala, it was Du Preez who conjured a sublime curling shot into the far corner that finally beat Kazapua to break the deadlock with 18 minutes remaining.
Amakhosi enjoyed a let-off in the final play of the game, when the ball was bundled over the line after an almighty penalty box scramble following a Chippa corner, but the referee ruled that Petersen had been impeded and disallowed the potentially equalising goal, to the relief of everyone in Gold & Black. Moments later, the shrill sound of the final whistle sent the thousands of Amakhosi faithful that had turned up in support of the team home in a celebratory mood.
Speaking afterwards, coach, Arthur Zwane expressed his satisfaction at the effort and energy delivered by his players.
“The guys executed the plan. From the first half, we showed character and created chances. At half-time, I encouraged them to keep on going and give 10 per cent more than they gave in the first half, and they did exactly that,” he said.
“Like last week, we made a lot of chances but Lady Luck was on our side today and we managed to get a goal. We kept on pushing and pressing them and we got the goal that we needed,” he added.
Amakhosi are back in action on Monday 1 May, when they host Swallows in a DStv Premiership clash at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Chippa United: Kazapua (1); Pietersen © (5), Makhele (34), Pfumbizai (15), Ntsabo (3) (Banda (4) 56’), Poggenpoel (6), Luthuli (36) (Maarman (17) 83’), Abrahams (12) (Mini (8) 45’), Lebitso (28), Maphangule (26) (Mbenyane (7) 56’), Ighodaro (37) (Chauke (31) 62’)
Subs: Nwabali (32); Mathiane (20), Konqobe (24), Mqokozo (45)
Coach: Lehlohonolo Seema
Kaizer Chiefs: Petersen (1); Hlanti (23), Ngezana (30), Ngcobo (27), Frosler (39), Sithebe (6), Maart © (8), Mashiane (19) (Sekgota (14) 71’), Du Preez (9) (Matlou (22) 90+3), Shabalala (42) (Solomons (18) 88’), Basomboli (21)
Subs: Khune (32); Mathoho (3), Kwinika (4), Alexander (17), Zwane (37), Duba (36)
Coach: Arthur Zwane