While real trophies elude Kaizer Chiefs under Steve Komphela, the Soweto giants won their third “plastic trophy” this season by beating Celtic 4-2 on Sunday to lift the Macufe Cup.
The “trophy”, from a friendly tournament that’s the finale of an arts and culture festival in Bloemfontein, joins the Maize Cup and Carling Black Label Cup Amakhosi won in pre-season.
Those aren’t exactly the trophies the most successful team in the country would like to be speaking about, but in the absence of real trophies, that’s what they’ll have to parade.
This was an important win for the club as it should give them confidence going into two big games against their rivals Orlando Pirates and the reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Chiefs will need to rise to the occasion in those matches if they are to send a strong message in their intentions of ending two trophyless seasons.
The biggest criticism of the Komphela-led Chiefs is that they have struggled to bring their A-game in big matches, only looking ruthless in friendlies and low-key games.
But there was nothing friendly about this match. These two teams didn’t hold anything back in a physical encounter that entertained and toyed with the emotions of the close to 40 000 fans who came out at Free State Stadium to witness this goal-fest.
Those goals were mainly due to poor defending. Chiefs were caught napping, while the hosts struggled to deal with the blindside crosses.
Phunya Sele Sele’s failure to track the man receiving the crosses was the reason why they were beaten three times in the first half. Dumisani Zuma showed his awareness and power to put Amakhosi ahead in the fifth minute.
That lead didn’t last long as Chiefs took their foot off the pedal and were punished by Victor Letsoala.
The 24-year-old striker completed his brace in 12 minutes after beating Willard Katsande, who was played in central defence, in the air.
Katsande’s central defence partner Siyabonga Ngezana quickly responded for Amakhosi to make up for his teammate’s defensive oversight.
Ngezana, who hasn’t featured for Amakhosi this season, was so excited about scoring that goal that he didn’t mind the booking he received for taking his shirt off in celebration.
Bernard Parker, who gave Chiefs the lead going into the break, gave the 19-year-old a tongue-lashing for his antics that earned him an unnecessary booking.
That moment highlighted what this game was about, an opportunity to give fringe players a run, while adding a sprinkling of experience to bring leadership and guidance.
Komphela started with experienced campaigners like Katsande, Parker, George Maluleka and Brilliant Khuzwayo in goal.
Chiefs were looking to win this match to ease the pressure the club, and the coach is under after the defeat to Baroka FC that saw Komphela needing police escort.
Celtic’s coach Veselin Jelusic has no such pressure. The Serbian could even afford to sit this one out and give the reins to his assistant Lehlohonolo Seema.
Celtic completely overhauled the team that beat the league champions Bidvest Wits in their last match.
The players who were given a run were eager to show they deserve more game time.
But their sloppy defending didn’t drive that point across, conceding a silly penalty at the death that was put away by Ryan Moon.