Johannesburg – It remains to be seen whether Knowledge Musona’s first strike in his Mark II era at Kaizer Chiefs now turns into an unstoppable glut of goals.
Of what there can be no doubt, however, is that Musona’s strike, in Chiefs’ comfortable 2-0 victory over Maritzburg United on Saturday night, has lifted a burden on the Zimbabwean marksman.
In a sense, Musona’s success in his first spell at Amakhosi, when he topped the scoring charts in 2010/11, counted slightly against him as he started this season as Chiefs’ marquee new signing.
Expectations were so high that doubts could be already heard as Musona went five league and cup games without a goal to his name. Perhaps two dry seasons in the German Bundesliga, one had to wonder, had taken their toll. Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter remained positive, and has been rewarded.
Musona can only have been helped by the scorcher he buried for Zimbabwe against Bafana Bafana last Tuesday. And on Saturday night, just after Gauteng’s first rains of the season had come pouring down, so came Musona’s first goal of his Chiefs season, smashing home off the underside of the bar, after Siphiwe Tshabalala’s deflected shot had come back off the post.
“Scoring will help him, but to be fair he looked sharp before he went on national duty,” said Baxter afterwards. “His movement was better, he was more comfortable, and his link up play has improved a lot since he went to Germany … the monkey on his back (scoring) was getting to be a bit of a baboon … but he has been doing well in training and that was the result.”
The only worry for Baxter over his striker was that he went off in the second half, nursing a stomach muscle injury.
“We don’t know if it is a strain or a tear, we will monitor it; from his immediate reaction it is not too serious,” said the Chiefs coach.
Baxter was pleased, meanwhile, with Chiefs’ overall display that saw them deservedly bounce back from an MTN8 defeat to Orlando Pirates, and a league loss to SuperSport United before the international break.
“It was really important to start well. We have been speaking about the inconsistency we have and I think that goes hand in hand with the intensity we create,” said Baxter.
“I don’t mean panic or playing fast, it’s intensity in decision making, movement and determination to break through. I was really pleased with the first 30 minutes. At the end of the first half, after the goal (Musona put Chiefs in front on 38 minutes), we switched off and Maritzburg showed they are a team that can come and beat us. We had two experiences of that last season (Chiefs drew twice with United in the league).
“After half-time Maritzburg came out and had two good attacks. On another day they could have scored. But as it got more into the game, with them attacking us we thought the game could open up if we defended properly, and had good transitions.
“We scored a (second) goal with a quick transition and controlled the game. On the whole, apart from 20 minutes, I thought the movement of our players, the passing and penetration were very good.”
Maritzburg were generally listless, and if they did have their chances, notably a second half header from Rheece Evans that flew just over, even Ernst Middendorp had to acknowledge that Chiefs “fully deserved” the win.
It was George Lebese who put the result beyond doubt in the 75th minute, the substitute steering home with his first touch of the game, after the excellent Shuaib Walters had parried Reneilwe Letsholonyane’s initial effort.
Middendorp expressed some hope he would have Delron Buckley back by the time Maritzburg host Black Aces on Wednesday night.
Chiefs, meanwhile, travel to Bloemfontein Celtic tomorrow night for another test of their title mettle.
“It’s always a difficult one (against Celtic),” said Baxter. “They will be smarting a bit from their defeat today (Celtic lost 2-0 at Tuks), and will want to put that right.”
In other matches on Saturday, Bongani Ndulula’s crisp finish midway through the first half was enough to send AmaZulu joint top of the Premiership table after a narrow 1-0 victory over Moroka Swallows at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban
Ugandan international Geofrey Massa scored on debut for the University of Pretoria, helping them to a 2-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic at Tuks Stadium.
Massa took just 18 minutes to open his account for Tuks, after Atusaye Nyondo had given the home side the lead two minutes earlier.
Last season’s Premier League runners-up, Platinum Stars, maintained their unbeaten record this season with a dour goalless draw against Free State Stars at Goble Park in Bethlehem on Saturday. – Additional reporting by Sapa