DURBAN – Discount Kaizer Chiefs at your peril because even after Saturday night’s 1-0 MTN8 cup loss against SuperSport United at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, they showed they mean business.
This is a well-oiled and slick unit which should be difficult to stop if they lose their ill luck in front of goals.
Thrice they banged the ball against the woodwork and still walked out at the first hurdle of the season-opening tournament.
SuperSport instead kicked off the season the way they ended it, with another win at this venue. They closed last term by lifting the Nedbank Cup trophy in Durban and started here with this lopsided victory.
With two big strikers in Jeremy Brockie and Bradley Grobler starting for SuperSport, supported by attacker Dove Wome, the visitors’ intent was clear.
It was all or nothing, which is in keeping with the competition’s format, where the winner bags the full R8 million prize money and the others pocket small change as an appearance fee.
The strategy worked perfectly for new coach Eric Tinkler as his men fashioned the opener in the sixth minute, with both big forwards playing their part.
The irrepressible ex-Chiefs stalwart, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, showed he still has the legs and the touches to make the midfield tick.
He breezed through the middle and found space for Grobler, who linked with Brockie, and the Kiwi international took one touch inside that flummoxed defender Lorenzo Gordinho before burying a drive past Itumeleng Khune.
It was Chiefs’ showtime thereafter. Striker Gustavo Paez dragged the Supersport defence ragged and created chances aplenty for partner Bernard Parker.
Siphiwe Tshabalala was on song and George Maluleka worked his socks off, while Hendrick Ekstein was pretty lively.
Defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele was particularly impressive with his galloping runs on the right flank in aid of the Amakhosi’s search for the equaliser.
Maligned coach Steve Komphela can hardly be faulted for all of his team’s first-half misses. Tshabalala shot against the post, Paez forced a fumble from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams – who later tipped Parker’s drive for a corner – and towards the end of the half, everyone missed a peach of a pass across goal from Mphahlele.
Like in the first half, Chiefs were almost caught cold after the restart. Khune was forced out to head the ball away, but only as far as Grobler, who lobbed it goalwards, where Eric Mathoho cleared.
The momentum was again grabbed by Chiefs. Egged on by a full house 45 000 crowd of mainly Chiefs supporters, the Soweto giants lived up to their status as football entertainers.
Attacking midfielder Joseph Molangoane’s 74th-minute introduction for Parker was the injection they needed.
He dazzled with his footwork and precision passing in combination with Paez and Tshabalala, but the goal they deserved failed to materialise.
Before Parker went off, he headed one chance on to the woodwork, and his frustration showed when he slammed his hands on to the bench when he sat in the dugout.