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Chiefs off the mark in DStv Championship

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Gavin Hunt’s charges were unfortunate not to be paid for their exploits in the first half. They did not only hit the upright once but thrice.

Nkosingiphile Ngcobo of Kaizer Chiefs and Gregory Damons of Chippa United during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. Picture: Deryck Foster, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs will not bolster their squad for the entire season. But coach Gavin Hunt must be pleased with how his current crop of players showed flashes of determination in their second game of the DStv Premiership on Tuesday night away at the Nelson Mandela Stadium.

A late own-goal from Gregory Damons gave Chiefs all three points at the fate of Chippa United. But the scoreline should have been looking more devastating from Hunt’s team that dished up the perfect response after learning just before kick-off that their one-year-long transfer ban appeal was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Following the 3-0 defeat to champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the opening day of the DStv Premiership last Saturday, Hunt was left fuming after some of his charges failed to come to the party at home.

It was for this reason that the five changes Hunt made to his starting line were expected. And so was the return of Daniel Akpeyi between the sticks for the out-of-form Itumeleng Khune who was responsible for two of the three goals against Sundowns.

With Hunt clearly not afraid to crack the whip, and involuntarily using Khune as an example, Chiefs’ players needed to work their socks off, especially with the first leg of the MTN8 semi-final against neighbours Orlando Pirates up next.

Hunt’s charges, though, were unfortunate not to be paid for their exploits in the first half. They did not only hit the upright once but thrice, brightening up a half that started on a paltry low pace as the ball failed to get past either defensive line.

Chippa ignited their own downfall that resulted in Chiefs gaining momentum and putting them under pressure. Frederic Nsambiyumva nearly became the culprit for his own team after his clearance whisked past his own goal after a delivery from Khama Billiat.

From thereon, Chiefs made forays into the Chilli Boys’ final third one after the other. And that should have paid dividends from the outset were it not for the upright that denied Leonardo Castro’s header with Veli Mothwa well beaten.

With an open play chance having gone begging, Chiefs opted to test the waters from set-pieces. But the upright was, once again, between Chiefs and taking the lead as Lebogang Manyama, the captain, saw his thunderbolt free-kick from long range come off the woodwork.

Billiat who has shown flashes of revival under Hunt in the last two matches nearly came close to making his third contribution of the season, having assisted both goals in the MTN8 quarter-final. But his low drive effort was tipped by Mothwa and also came off the upright.

But if it wasn’t the woodwork that denied Chiefs the sheer dominance with goals, it was Mothwa’s exceptional goalkeeping in the second half. The Chilli Boys’ shot-stopper denied Chiefs a hat-trick of scoring opportunities in a space of three minutes.

Manyama must have felt hard-done-by after being denied by a pin-point shot by Mothwa after being teed by Billiat with a defence-splitting pass. But Daniel Cardoso who unleashed a thunderbolt shot with his weaker right foot will feel dejected after Mothwa finely palmed his effort for a corner-kick.

Mothwa, though, was not done with his strides to keep his team in the game, blocking Siyabonga Ngezana’s pin-point header from close range and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo’s curling effort from a distance. But a moment of misfortune from teammate Damons denied Mothwa the clean sheet and handed Chiefs the points.

Results:

Chippa United (0) (0)

Kaizer Chiefs (0) (1)

Damons (OG) 78′

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