JOHANNESBURG – A tepid first half at FNB Stadium was followed up by a strong showing from Steve Komphela’s Kaizer Chiefs, the Glamour Boys running riot to put three goals past a lacklustre Golden Arrows side in their Nedbank Cup last-32 clash on Sunday.
The two sides headed into the break not having done much to please the crowd that turned up in the hope that Chiefs stay in the tournament, with Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates having already progressed to the next phase.
Ryan Moon broke the deadlock not long after the second half, appearing to save his side from their blushes, given how the game had been so flat prior to the goal.
The striker finished a tap-in from close range, having connected to midfielder Willard Katsande’s stray attempt.
That’s essentially when the game picked up tempo, Chiefs improving on a frustrating one shot on target from the first half.
The introduction of Hendrik Ekstein also helped because Siphelele Ntshangase showed tired legs and was ineffective as the game went on, failing to find the ‘champagne’ pass he had promised so many of the Amakhosi fans when he was signed last month.
Chiefs quickly found the net again – substitute Bernard Parker going around keeper Max Mbaeva, having run on to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune’s long ball into the final third, which was not cleared by the Arrows defenders.
Then winger Joseph Molangoane added a third to finish Arrows off and send Chiefs celebrating into the last-16 with a 3-0 win, where they will hope for a more favourable draw against the lower division sides.
Komphela was forced to make a couple of changes for this match.
Ntshangase and Leonardo Castro made their first starts for the club since arriving in the January window, and right back Ramahlwe Mphahlele returned to the line-up since his injury five months ago, which had cost him his place in the team when he was back fit to play.
But goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune kept the No 1 jersey, his deputy Brilliant Khuzwayo again left to wonder when he would some get time.
Many of the changes were forced because of injuries to Gustavo Paez (hamstring) and George Maluleka (calf strain), but Komphela had been toying with the idea of giving a few of the fringe players a run.
It was again clear why Khune is not only Chiefs’ first-choice goalie, but also the country’s by a mile.
He was voted Man of the Match and was applauded by the opposition bench coach Clinton Larsen on his way to collecting his award.
Khune literally stood between victory and Arrows earlier in the game, and even denied them a chance to claw their way back into the game later on, saving point-blank shots and commanding the aerial balls when Chiefs looked vulnerable.
If Chiefs can be consistent in starting games the way they finished them here, they could make a strong case for the league title with 10 matches to go, and maybe even challenge for the Nedbank Cup.
But the jury is still out on that, but time is running out for Komphela, who is in the last few months of his Amakhosi contract without a trophy in more than two years.