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Thanda Royal Zulu’s dream of campaigning in the Premier Soccer League was blown away at a blustery Richards Bay Sports Complex yesterday when they suffered a 3-0 defeat by Chippa United.
Three sucker-punch goals against the run of play for Chippa places them top of the three-team promotion play-offs table before the final match against fellow Cape outfit Santos on Saturday. Going into the match Thanda topped the standings and were favoured to take advantage of home conditions and bank full points.
Instead, they conceded an early goal and failed to hit back despite hogging possession. The loss saw them drop to the bottom of the table and out of contention.
Visitors Chippa basically took their chances whenever they surprised Thanda with speedy breakaways. Journeyman forward Petrus Ngebo was the key who unpicked the Thanda defence for the opener in the sixth minute. His good work from midfield caught Thanda cold on the left flank, and midfielder Andile Mbenyane tapped the ball past goalkeeper Nhlanhla Khuzwayo.
Thereafter Thanda grabbed control while Chippa sat back and waited for counter-attacking opportunities. For a side that only came into the First Division this season, they showed great composure to hold off Thanda.
The home side had their chances, two of which were fluffed by Nigerian striker Peter Nwadike.
The burly attacker first ballooned a shot after Chippa failed to clear a free-kick, and later volleyed wide when goalkeeper Tashrique Goldman’s punched clearance landed in front of him.
One other opportunity from a good position was wasted when midfielder Nkosinathi Ogle skied his shot from inside the box. Chippa’s counter-attacking strategy was spot-on when they increased their lead in the 57th minute. Goldman showed his experience with a long throw to his attack.
The ball was worked into the box where Khuzwayo parried it to Mfundo Shumana, who rifled it into goal to double the score.
Thanda coach Neil Tovey sent on fresh legs in veteran PSL attacker Manqoba Ngwenya and Malawian striker Peter Wadabwa.
However, Thanda struggled to play fluently in the blustery conditions and were ultimately caught off guard yet again when Buyani Sali nipped in to finish off a one-on-one chance against Khuzwayo.
The result leaves Chippa as favourites to earn promotion to the PSL, and ensures that Cape Town will still have two sides in next season’s competition.