JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs ended their eight-game winless streak in all competitions to bag their first win in the Caf Champions League’s group stage after defeating Petro de Luanda 2-0 at the FNB Stadium yesterday night.
Coming to this game, Chiefs had a turbulent start in their group stage campaign, drawing their first match against Horoya here before being thumped 4-0 by Wydad Casablanca at the Stade du 4 Août in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso last Sunday.
Of Course, that defeat added more misery to Chiefs, who’ve been disappointing in all competitions this season after missing out on two domestic competitions, but that footballing lesson was clearly worth it as they showed more vigour tonight.
Chiefs may have been playing their first game since that defeat to Wydad, but they had troubles in their camp coming here. They were without goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who was on a compassionate leave after losing his sister on Thursday.
Captain and defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele was also absent after receiving a red card against Wydad. Striking duo Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro were also among the absentees after sustaining a knock and exhaustion respectively.
Coach Gavin Hunt looked to the fringe Lazarous Kambole for goals, while Daniel Akpeyi stood between the sticks. Chiefs, though, started well, taking the game to the visitors. But their inroads going forward didn’t yield results from the outset.
De Luanda, who would have been happy with a point from this match, kept a solid defensive structure, repelling any dangers from open play, considering that they were also vigilant after they were beaten by Horoya and Wydad in their first two matches.
But that wall would crack open from a set-piece. On the stroke of the half-an-hour mark, Nkosingiphile Ngcobo sent a delightful corner-kick which Eric Mathoho headed home with ease. That was a vital goal for Chiefs who headed to the break in control.
But in the bigger scheme of things that was their first goal at home in four Champions League’s matches this season. Hunt must have hoped that they were more to come in a game that went on to change their fortunes in the competition.
The start of the second half was played at a relatively slow pace though - with the slight opening of the heavens not making anything easy for either side. But Chief still dominated possession as they searched for the second goal which proved to be the winner.
They came close to finding it on the hour mark, Daniel Cardoso rattling the inside of the far post after another sumptuous corner-kick from Ngcobo. From one misfortune to the other. Happy Mashiane’s hard and low close-range shot was blocked by goalie Signori Antonio.
With time dying down, Chiefs tempo declined and the visitors were gaining momentum. But Chiefs pounced when it mattered the most. Mashiane won the ball outside the box, raced to the edge before curling the ball into the bottom corner with his weak right foot.
And that’s how it ended, the South Africans bagging maximum to get their campaign up and running, despite remaining third on the standings with four points. The result, moreover, should also add confidence to their ailing league campaign where they are 10th.