Chiefs joint top with City after Lebese strike


JOHANNESBURG – Steve Komphela ran across to match-winner George Lebese to celebrate a late goal that could prove incredibly significant in this Absa Premiership title race as Kaizer Chiefs ran out 1-0 victors over Chippa United on Saturday.

The Amakhosi coach had perhaps resigned himself to settling for a point as his side looked lethargic against a struggling Chippa side at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

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George Lebese celebrates with the Kaizer Chiefs management after scoring against Chippa. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePixKaizer Chiefs right back Ramahlwe Mphahlele was named the Man of the Match. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePixChippa United striker Lerato Manzini tries to hold off Chiefs defender Lorenzo Gordinho. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

The draw, if it had come to that, would have still stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 14 games, but Komphela would have wanted all three points to stay in the championship hunt.

A share of the spoils would have not necessarily been catastrophic, but something very close to that description.

Lebese, a fringe player these days and having only come off the bench as a second-half substitute for the ineffective Edmore Chirambadare, saved the day with a well-taken strike in the 85th minute that gave Chippa goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi no chance.

The win sent Amakhosi joint top of the league with Cape Town City on 45 points with only six games remaining, although Bidvest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns, the other contenders, still have several games in hand.

Chiefs were fresh off yet another win on Wednesday away to Bloemfontein Celtic, and they had an advantage in that they were one of two title chasers in league action this weekend – the other being Sundowns, who face plucky Free State Stars on Sunday afternoon.

The concentration for Amakhosi was important in a game where opportunities were few and far between.

The first shot on target was not long after the 70th minute when Lebese sent striker Gustavo Paez through on goal, but the Venezuelan, who has been on target for the club in their previous two matches, shot straight at the keeper.

Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela would’ve been a relieved man at the final whistle. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

Chippa also put Chiefs under pressure, but their attempts were wayward and barely troubled Itumeleng Khune in goal.

Lebese’s introduction at halftime appeared to sway the match in Amakhosi’s favour. He helped with ball retention and his crosses were much more accurate than what Chirambadare could offer before being pulled off.

Chiefs face SuperSport United in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup next Saturday, and they will feel they have a real chance at a cup double after this vital victory.

But Wits and Sundowns will still have much more of a say, with as many as four games in hand, and these title challengers are still going to face off and probably cancel each other out.

However, Chiefs would much rather have the points in the bag than games in hand to play catch up.

Independent Media
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