Moses Mabhida Stadium - Kaizer Chiefs made it a perfect 10 in Durban on Saturday night, clinching the MTN8 title for the first time since 2008 against their Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates, who were on the losing side at this venue last season against Platinum Stars.
Amakhosi’s 10th victory in as many matches in all competitions this term was inspired by an unlikely source, captain Tefu Mashamaite, who wore the armband in Itumeleng Khune’s absence and vindicated coach Stuart Baxter’s decision to give him the role ahead of the more favoured Reneile Letsholonyane.
Mashamaite, who captained his former club Bidvest Wits to the Nedbank Cup title in 2010, headed home the winner just before the half-hour mark against a Pirates side that seemed hypnotized for the better part of this match.
Amakhosi, determined to win a trophy after they finished last season without any silverware to display in their cabinet, had a score to settle with the Buccaneers, who beat them in the 2011 final at FNB Stadium and knocked them out in the semi-finals last season.
Stuart Baxter’s boys established an early foothold, passing the ball around with ease. A well-worked move on the left almost led to the opening goal for Amakhosi, but Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was alert to save Mandla Masango’s close range effort, a chance which was created by in-form left back Tsepo Masilela.
It was all Chiefs in the opening stages of the game and their persistence finally paid off before the half hour mark. Midfielder George Maluleka’s well taken set-piece was comfortably headed home by an unmarked Mashamaite in the box.
Mashamaite was the hero for Amakhosi on the night, but goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo deserves credit for the clean sheet Amakhosi kept, their fourth in the competition.
Almost 10 minutes before Mashamaite broke the deadlock, Khuzwayo showed his brilliant reflexes to stop what looked a certain goal, as he got down well to his right to stop Oupa Manyisa’s close range shot. And to think throughout the week the major talking point and concern for Amakhosi supporters was the absence of their inspirational captain Khune. Clearly there was no need to worry.
Khune was watching from the stands and must have loved watching his deputy deliver a performance that will long in the memory.
Khuzwayo was born in Umlazi, a township outside Durban, and had his family at the stadium watching him. His dad, a die-hard Amakhosi fan, must have been the happiest man in this packed stadium.
Khuzwayo, who was named Man-of-the-Match and then dedicated the award to his late mother, produced the goods again early in the second half, getting down well to stop Kermit Erasmus’s shot. The goalkeeper made three more saves in the half later in the half, endearing himself to the Amakhosi fans.
Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic had hoped that being on the same side with Manyisa, the player who scored the winning goal when these two sides met in 2011, would be an omen. But it was not to be. The Serb had inspired a come from behind victory in the Nedbank Cup final against Bidvest Wits back in May at this stadium, but he could not do so this time.
All his players did not come to the party for this game. Not even Lehlohonolo Majoro, the club’s “super-sub” inspired the Buccaneers. The former Chiefs striker had one chance seven minutes before time, but he directed his shot wide of goal.
This was not a classic fans had hoped to see but it was a good game nonetheless and Amakhosi fans will certainly remember it, for it was the day they outclassed their rivals to win silverware in a packed stadium.
With this victory, Amakhosi breathed a sigh of relief. They are back to winning ways.