Highlands Park (0) 0
Kaizer Chiefs (0) 1
Makhulong Stadium - No arguments, this was quite awful.
It was another forgettable performance from struggling Kaizer Chiefs, but they finally ended a winless run that was beginning to throw serious doubts on whether the four-times league champions are even worthy of being considered this season’s Absa Premiership title contenders. Their showing here, barring the final few minutes, didn’t do them any favours.
There are still plenty of questions.
Until the hour mark, when striker Michelle Katsvairo came off the bench to take Edward Manqele’s place, Chiefs had not had a shot on target against a plucky Highlands Park side that thrived on being cheered on by their home supporters at this packed and compact venue in Tembisa. Amakhosi had their fans bemused by their ever changing style of play, so much so that several of their die-hard fans moaned that they could not recognised the team dressed in gold and coached by Steve Komphela, who enjoyed their applause in yesteryears when Chiefs were entertainers on the football pitch.
There’s a longing for those days, and despite victory here – one that meant the Glamour Boys registered only their second win in 16 matches from all competitions – the pressure is still on Komphela to produce something special. More to the point, a convincing display is something he will be desperate for as games come in thick and fast.
On the night, Chiefs had to rely on a penalty converted by George Lebese in the 65th minute after referee Lwandile Mfiki awarded a spot kick for a foul on winger William Twala. It’s a lucky escape, truth be told. While there was clear contact on the speedy Twala by defender Auguston Leonard, the foul was just outside the box and it should have been a free kick instead of a penalty, but, to be fair on the referee, he only gets one look at the incident and never has the benefit of the replay.
There will be high-fives all around at Naturena in the build-up to yet another league encounter against Maritzburg United on Saturday evening, but if Komphela pays attention to detail, he will quickly realise that he still hasn’t solved the scoring conundrum. The coach made three changes to the team that started in the dull 1-1 draw against Platinum Stars at FNB Stadium a week ago, while his Highlands Park counterpart Allan Freese went after consistency and kept the same starting eleven, having beaten Baroka FC 2-1 here last week.
Chiefs were only ever in control, with the number of shots on target improving, when Katsvairo entered the fray by taking Manqele’s place, a player who has been ineffective so far this season even though Komphela has thrown him a lifeline by taking him off the transfer list. But the coach will have to look elsewhere this weekend or face further criticism in the way he has changed a team that has been struggling for several months now.