Kaizer Chiefs (1) 2
Parker 20, Musona 68
Platinum Stars (1) 1
Johannesburg - Knowledge Musona came off the bench to warm Kaizer Chiefs hearts on a cold spring night here on Saturday, the Zimbabwean’s astute header enough to see off a plucky Platinum Stars.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter took a risk ahead of Tuesday night’s decisive MTN8 semi-final clash with Orlando Pirates, resting several key names against last season’s Absa Premiership runners-up.
It hardly seemed to matter as Chiefs dominated the early stages, taking the lead through Bernard Parker’s excellent volley.
But Tintswalo Tshabalala levelled for Stars on the stroke of half-time, and it was Dikwena, in decent early season form and unbeaten until on Saturday, who seemed the more likely to grab a winner.
Musona, however, proved his worth when thrown into the fray, and flicked home Parker’s corner for his second goal in three matches to send Amakhosi level on points at the top of the table.
It was a shame that this entertaining encounter was played out in front of such a paltry crowd, FNB Stadium a bit of a ghost town with only around a thousand fans through the gates.
With one eye clearly on Tuesday’s MTN8 semi-final, Baxter made sweeping changes to his Amakhosi side, leaving Musona, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Tsepo Masilela and Tefu Mashamaite on the bench.
Siboniso Gaxa’s injury against Bloemfontein Celtic on Tuesday night meant that the Chiefs coach changed both his full-backs, Josta Dladla in for Gaxa and Keegan Ritchie replacing Masilela. Other starters included Siyabonga Nkosi and Lehlohonolo Majoro, while Bernard Parker returned in place of Kingston Nkhatha.
Stars coach Allan Freese, by contrast, made no changes to the side that beat Tuks on Wednesday, though his side also have an MTN8 semi-final on Tuesday.
At first, Chiefs seemed unaffected by all the changes, firmly on the front foot, with the excellent Nkosi calling the shots. His lovely pass sent Majoro sprinting down the right, and he easily beat Luvolwhetu Mpeta, before sending a fizzing ball across the face of goal.
George Lebese then produced a superb cross, but Majoro’s boot connected only with the surprisingly chilly night air.
It was left to Parker to show his other strikers exactly how it’s done, netting with a brilliantly taken volley from Nkosi’s astute cross.
And Chiefs were made to pay on the stroke of half-time, as Siphelele Mthembu finally found some space, beat Dladla, and rifled in a shot that Khune could only parry into the path of Tshabalala, who made no mistake from close range.
Baxter threw on Musona, for Majoro, and from Parker’s resultant corner Musona did the business, flicking a header past Mpontshane. Chiefs held on, and can now turn their attention to the Buccaneers on Heritage Day.
Elsewhere, Sundowns beat Bidvest Wits 2-1 while both, the AmaZulu and SuperSport United match, as well as Moroka Swallows and Maritzburg United game, finished 1-all.