Kaizer Chiefs opened their preliminary round of the Caf Confederation Cup with a bang as they hammered minnows Zimamoto 4-0 at a bitterly-cold Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Port Elizabeth encounter saw yet another brilliant performance from Khama Billiat as he scored his first hat trick for Amakhosi.
However, if they hadn’t missed some opportunities in the first half, it could have been even more for Giovanni Solinas’ side, who were looking to redeem themselves after being knocked out of the Telkom Knockout by arch-rivals Orlando Pirates last Saturday.
Amakhosi started the game like a house on fire as they were looking to make an early impression in continental football this season.
The home side should have been ahead as early as the fourth minute, as Lebogang Manyama’s corner forced a diving save from goalkeeper Nassor Salim.
An acrobatic rebound from Willard Katsande needed a clearance by captain Ramadhan Abdalla.
However, Chiefs would not be denied an early lead as it came through their best player on the night, Billiat.
Following a foul on Kabelo Mahlasela just outside the 18-yard area, Billiat took the responsibility by rounding the wall as he placed his shot at Salim’s near-post.
Four minutes later, Leonardo Castro squandered a great opportunity to double his side’s tally.
After being teed up with a delightful cross from Billiat, the bulky Colombian striker ballooned his header over the cross-bar.
With Chiefs missing chances at the other end, the side from Zanzibar started to grow their confidence going forward, but their strikers lacked a finishing touch.
Midway through the first half, Billiat did finally manage to get the second goal for Amakhosi, but his strike didn’t count as his rebound was from an illegal play by Castro, after the latter was penalised for colliding with goalkeeper Salim.
With 15 minutes into the second, Billiat finally got his brace. Castro calmly managed to chest-trap the ball before laying off for the Zimbabwean talisman to place a shot to Salim’s bottom corner.
Earlier, Manyama should have put his name on the scoreboard, but he skied his set-piece over the bar.
With 20 minutes to go, substitute Bernard Parker made an impact as he created his team’s third goal.
On a transitional break – and with his second successive pass – Parker delivered a through-ball that found an on-rushing Mahlasela, who volleyed the ball into the top corner.
With Zimamoto running out of steam and chasing the game, they started to create schoolboy errors inside the box and were punished.
Billiat delivered a telling corner that defender Ibrahim Ahmada accidentally used his hand to clear. The referee got a clear view and, without hesitation, pointed to the spot.
The Zimbabwean took the responsibility and rattled the roof of the net for his third goal of the match.
The Glamour Boys will be hoping to take their momentum into their league campaign as they travel to KwaZulu-Natal to face Golden Arrows on Saturday.@Mihlalibaleka