JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs avoided slipping on a banana-peel in the form of struggling GladAfrica Championship side Royal Eagles to advance to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.
Chiefs have a chequered past in this tournament when it comes to playing against teams from the lower leagues. They have been stunned by amateurs and embarrassed by teams in the first division. Eagles had all the makings of a potential banana-peel, languishing at the bottom of the first division and with nothing to lose against a fallen giants that’s fighting to reclaims its rightful place at the summit of South African football.
Amakhosi were understandably cautions, but they were no match for Eagles who had nothing to show for their outing in Johannesburg – except for selfies in the iconic stadium that hosted the final of the first Fifa World Cup on African soil. Lebogang Manyama’s lob put Chiefs in the hat for the last 16 draw that will be conducted tomorrow.
After throwing a fit at being asked if he is tempted to start this match with Itumeleng Khune, coach Ernst Middendorp did just that despite having praised Daniel Akpeyi on the brilliant season he has had. Chiefs’ supporters have a love-hate relationship with the Nigerian goalkeeper despite his heroic showings this season in the club’s storming run in the league race. But once Khune regained full fitness, a section of the club’s fans have been calling for Bafana Bafana’s most-capped goalkeeper to return to the starting XI. Middendorp gave him a run against Eagles, resting Akpeyi who is currently the club’s undisputed No. 1.
The supporters loved that. They passionately cheered Khune making a save from a tame effort from the KwaZulu-Natal side. That was his only contribution last night. Khune wasn’t needed much in what was a dull encounter, looking more like a mid-table league clash than a fight for the most prestigious knockout competition in the country.