JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs passed up on the opportunity to get their fans fully on board for the new campaign as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon to Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup, effectively South Africa's season opener.
While Ernst Middendorp can point to the fact that this was not his starting XI – the team was selected via fans' vote – the Chiefs coach may still be concerned by some sloppy mistakes at the back and a lack of a cutting edge up front.
Coming after last season's disappointing ninth-place finish, Amakhosi could really have done with a confidence booster. But it was not to be as first half goals from Augustine Mulenga and Thembinkosi Lorch made it an afternoon to remember for the supporters in the black and white of Pirates.
The game began 15 minutes after the scheduled 3pm kick-off in order to allow fans arriving late to make their way into the stadium safely, for what was a sold out encounter.
Once proceedings had started, the opening 15 minutes provided some fast-paced end-to-end action, with both teams having a couple of early half chances.
There had been little to separate the sides, but that changed on 18 minutes when a careless pass from Chiefs keeper Bruce Bvuma to Daniel Cardoso saw the defender losing the ball to Luvuyo Memela, whose shot cannoned back off the upright before Mulenga blazed the rebound into the roof of the net.
Although Bucs looked more of a threat in attack, Chiefs were not without their moments and they should have levelled the game up three minutes later, but from just five yards out, new signing Lazarous Kambole blasted his shot over an empty net after Ramahlwe Mphahlele had put the ball on a plate for him with a slide-rule cross.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Glamour Boys on the half hour mark when the reigning PSL Player of the Season, Lorch, was given all the time in the world to pick his spot from 25-yards out, and that's exactly what he did as he bent a delightful effort into the top corner, with Bvuma's positioning questionable.
Chiefs captain Bernard Parker did have a shot blocked on the line seven minutes before the interval, but other than that, there was little to trouble the Pirates defence.
Following the restart, it was Bucs stopper Wayne Sandilands who was first called into action, doing well to get down sharply to keep out a low from Khama Billiat on 56 minutes.
To their credit Chiefs continued to threaten and more chances followed as substitutes Dumisani Zuma and Leonardo Castro both had efforts on goal, but failed to hit the target.
Sandilands, meanwhile, was increasingly being called into action and he did well to snuff out the threat from a series of crosses and balls into his box.
Pirates though were able to withstand the pressure and could even have added a third goal in the 83rd minute when debutant Fortune Makaringe went through on goal, but he pulled his parting shot marginally wide of the upright.
The 2019/ 20 league season gets underway next weekend, with Chiefs scheduled to play away at Highlands Park on Sunday, while the Sea Robbers host Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.
African News Agency (ANA)