Johannesburg – Defending Premier League champions Kaizer Chiefs continued a shaky battle in defence of their title with a goalless draw against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday night.
Chiefs have now secured a modest eight points from their five matches and are struggling to keep up with the frontrunners in the championsip race.
In a fast and furious game on a high-bouncing pitch in Bloemfontein, lamentable finishing was at the root of Chiefs' frustration as chances were not only missed, but ended up with the ball invariably sailing high and wide of the posts.
Ironically, the main offenders were much-vaunted goalscorers Knowledge Musona, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Kingston Nkhata, with under-worked Cameroonian Patrick Tignyemb in the Celtic goal required to make only a single worthwhile save throughout the 90
In all, Chiefs had 14 scoring efforts against Celtic's seven, but no fewer than 13 of Amakhosi's inviting opportunities did not so much as require a save from the Cameroon-born goalkeeper.
Celtic, in contrast, made better use of their limited chances, with a snaking 30-metre ground shot from Joel Mogorosi in the 35th minute only partially saved by Itumeleng Khune in Chiefs' goal and the loose ball cleared with no small measure of relief.
The aggressive, bustling Mogorosi, who was also yellow-carded in the first half and came close to being red-carded in the second, also came within a whisker of breaking the scoring deadlock in the 55th minute with a snap shot that was cleared off the goalline.
In the circumstances, the hard-working home team who are still struggling a couple of notches above the relegation zone with five points from five matches, were worthy of the point that maintained their reputation for invariably giving Chiefs a hard time.
Chiefs surprisingly left top Bafana Bafana and Amakhosi scorer Bernard Parker on the bench at the outset and he had few opportunities of ending the goal famine after coming on as a substitute in the 72nd minute.
Instead the Zimbabwean pair of Musona and Nkhata continued to miss chances, with two point-blank opportunities presented to Nkhata which should never be missed at this level of the game.
Bafana's Tshabalala was little better, with an ideally-positioned free-kick from little more than a metre outside the penalty sailing five metres over the crossbar for what would have been three impressive points in a rugby match on the venue that is mainly used for rugby. – Sapa